Protestors took to the Madison streets on Friday as part of a global climate strike, searching for community-based improvements and demands from global leaders.
Protest leaders demanded local county, city and state governments declare climate emergencies. Additionally, they are calling on Madison Gas & Electric to convert to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030 and pull their shared from the Columbia and Elm Road Plants according to their statement.
The strike began at 1 p.m. in front of the MG&E plant on Railroad Street, featuring local activists ranging from high schoolers to retirees.
“To see everyone come together as a community it gives me more of a hope because I can see that even though youth have a lot of power,” Youth Climate Action Team and UW-Madison student Sophie Guthier said. “It's the adults that can actually do the change for us because they're the ones in the legislature right now.
Protestors joined in chanting, “we can run our own utilities” outside the MG&E Blount Street Power Station.
Although specific motivations for attending the strike varied, protestors collectively expressed a feeling of urgency and action.
“What we’re doing now, coming together and rising up [shows] that there are more people who want change than the few people who are resistant to change,” strike speaker Heather Driscoll said. “There are power in numbers and the fact that so many people are showing up … all over the world speaks to the fact that people are ready for change and they're demanding change.”
Following the MG&E rally, protestors began their march to the capitol square to make their voices’ heard with legislators.
Protestors called for Gov. Tony Evers to declare a climate emergency and create a plan to combat climate change, according to Driscoll.
On the capitol steps, a student emphasized the importance of continuing to protest inside the building.
“This is a crisis and we need you to stay here and panic with us,” the student said. “We’re going into the rotunda to disrupt the workday for all of them.”
Inside, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes expressed pride in the work of the students and the office of sustainability.
“This is how we get it done,” Barnes said. “More than the administration, it’s you all that [are] making a difference. I will be with you all every step of the way.”
Barnes noted one major obstacle in the way of climate progress: Speaker of the Assembly, Robin Vos.
“The only people who are in our way is Robin Vos,” Barnes added. “He wants to stop our progress and run for Congress.”
Throughout the day, there was a sense of anxiety in the immediacy required to solve issues on climate.
"I'm here today for my survival,” Guthier said. “A lot of people think of the climate crisis, people don't realize how dangerous it actually is. It's not something you see instantly happen to you. It's kind of this slow thing that is constantly killing us all. I'm here to protect myself and my entire community."