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Megan Tomasic

Local students and community members are joining a global climate strike Friday to demand action on the “climate catastrophe.”

Hosted by Voices of Westmoreland, a non-profit organization that promotes racial, economic and educational equity in the county, the goal is to raise awareness of the need for immediate action and to encourage people to vote for politicians who will make that change, said Clare Dooley, co-founder of the organization.

“Individual action is not going to solve the climate crisis,” she said. “The most important thing people can do is vote for politicians who are going to take the actions necessary to make real change. Whether or not people recycle or eat hamburgers is not the issue. The issue is that we need massive investment from our government to spark a complete transformation of our economy away from fossil fuels to renewable energy.”

The strike is part of an international event involving 150 countries, with 700 locations across the United States. It is taking place three days ahead of the United Nations Summit on Climate Change, where world leaders will meet in New York City, and is coming off a year of student protests on the issue.

The protests, Dooley said, were sparked by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old who sat outside the Swedish Parliament holding a sign that read “School Strike for Climate,” The Washington Post reported. Since then, Thunberg has led strikes, most recently in Washington D.C. with the message of politicians listening to science and taking responsibility, NPR reported.

A similar event will be hosted on Friday outside the Pittsburgh City Council Building, 414 Grant St.

Across the world, places in Africa, South America, China, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Spain and more will also take a stance against climate change.

“This will help get the ball rolling on progress that should have been made years ago,” Thomas Barnett-Contreras, a Greensburg-Salem High School student and speaker at the rally, said in a news release. “People are starting to realize how devastating the effects of climate change can be, and they want action.

“It’s exciting that we can participate in a world-wide event right here in Westmoreland County.”

Locally the event will start at 4 p.m. outside the Westmoreland County Courthouse. Students and community members will be present to speak.

“Everyone is welcome at this event,” Dooley said. “We will have signs and posters available, and we will also give people the opportunity to make their own signs and posters. We ask everyone to think about the future and repercussions that, if we don’t demand our government to address this emergency right now, it will be too late.”

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