NEW YORK – United Methodist Women, the largest denominational organization for women, publicly applauded the global student climate strike that will take place on Sept. 20 through Sept. 27. The organization released the following statement expressing solidarity with the youth strikers:
“Air pollution not only puts my home at risk but puts the health of youth and children across the nation in jeopardy,” said youth climate advocate and United Methodist Women intern Sarah Son. “While we can make more sustainable changes in our personal lives, like using reusable utensils or taking clean public transportation, it’s up to the administration and law- makers to make systematic changes that will address the issue of climate change at hand and in the future.”
“My responsibility as a mother, a woman of faith and an advocate for climate justice is to take action that will set future generations up for success,” said Elizabeth Chun Hye Lee, executive for economic and environmental justice and climate justice lead, Christian Social Action for United Methodist Women. “As United Methodists, we live out our commitment to faith when we work to ensure current and future generations have a chance to live in safe communities,” Lee said.
“If we aren’t fighting for just energy for all and pushing for development of zero-emission school buses and public transportation, and utilities that provide 100% clean, renewable energy that are just and equitable, we aren’t creating sustainable communities for the future,” Lee said.
Last year, the World Health Organization found that “In the heat wave of summer 2003 in Europe, more than 70,000 excess deaths were recorded.” Yet, “between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea and heat stress.”
“Jesus said ‘suffer little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for such is the kingdom of heaven,’” said Harriett Jane Olson, general secretary and CEO of United Methodist Women. “Young people are coming. The question is will we forbid them, or will we work in solidarity with them? As for me and my house , we will center the leadership of young people and help them inherit an environment in which they can be proud.”