Here’s a list of young climate leaders from the U.S. and abroad that are making an impact for good while fighting for the future of our planet
From artists and writers to students and activists, young people have upended the climate conversation by organizing, protesting, and pressuring governments to take action for their future. To encourage more insightful coverage of what they want and how their work fits in with – and has revolutionized – the broader environmental movement, we’ve assembled a list of young climate leaders worth reaching out to.
Researching and selecting these individuals was as inspiring as it was difficult. We asked for nominations and attended various digital events hosted by climate activism groups, climate journalists, and others. We also scoured news coverage, including stories that many of our partners produced for #YouthTakeoverDay, when they passed the mic to young people. Still, to date, most outlets have highlighted relatively few young climate leaders, save for the most famous, like Greta Thunberg. But of course there is a huge and diverse number of young people out there making an impact. Our coverage should reflect that, and we hope this list helps. We’ve also built a Twitter list that mirrors this so you can easily follow their work.
A HUGE thank you to the team at Covering Climate Now for this piece. This list is only a start and as a member of Covering Climate Now, we are beyond honored to share the growing list of young climate activists and leaders quite literally leaving the world better than they found it. | Follow @CoveringClimate.
This story is published as part of Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of news outlets strengthening coverage of the climate story.
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND – SEPTEMBER 20: Campaigners protest during a climate change action day on September 20, 2019 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Protests are taking place today worldwide, with campaigners demanding that governments and corporations take steps towards lowering CO2 emissions and combating the warming of the Earth’s temperatures. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)[separator type=”thin”]
The United States
Alphabetized by first name.
- Abigail (Abby) Adekunbi Thomas | California | @abbythomas_
Thomas works in environmental employee engagement at Patagonia and is a council member at The Intersectional Environmentalist. Originally from Ethiopia and Nigeria, she was exposed to the disproportionate impacts that climate change levies on developing countries and people of color from a young age, which led her to become an environmentalist.
- Aisha Soofi | Michigan | @aishasoofi
Aisha Soofi organizes with Sunrise Ann Arbor to build a movement of young people to stop climate change.
- Alexandria Villaseñor | California and New York | @AlexandriaV2005
Villaseñor started striking every Friday outside of the UN after witnessing the deadliest wildfire in California’s history, the Camp Fire, in 2018. She later founded Earth Uprising, a youth-led movement connecting and educating activists on how to hold world leaders accountable for battling climate change, and recently authored a piece in the new book All We Can Save.
- Alexia Leclercq | New York | Linkedin
Leclercq is an environmental justice activist organizing with Youth Climate Strike NYC, and Sunrise NYC. She is a student and co-founder of the organization Start: Empowerment, which tackles environmental racism in the Bronx.
- Andrea Nyamekye
Nyamekye is the co-director of Neighbor to Neighbor, a Massachusetts-based nonprofit that works for progressive causes.
- Ayisha Siddiqa | New York | @Ayishas12
Siddiqa is the founder of Polluters Out, Fossil Free University and a member of Extinction Rebellion Youth. She credits her family’s farm in Pakistan for her passion and concern for the environment, and believes that women are central to solving climate change.
- Benji Backer | Washington | @BenjiBacker
Backer and a group of friends created The American Conservation Coalition in 2017 aimed at rallying conservatives around climate change. They now have branches on 220 college campuses.
- Dania Halak
Dania Halak, is a Field Advisor for Our Climate, a local environmental group that advocates for equitable and science-based climate policy.
- Elsa Mengistu | North Carolina | @elsamengistu
Mengistu is a student at Howard University in DC, a human rights activist, and climate organizer working with Generation Green and Black Girl Environmentalist. She formerly served as Director of Operations and Logistics at Zero Hour and was featured on Grist’s Top 50 Fixers list in 2019.
- Fernanda Scharfenberger | Kentucky | @fern_scharfe
Scharfenberger is a student at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. She co-founded the Kentucky Chapter of U.S. Youth Climate Strike in 2018 where she created a program to encourage one student from every Louisville area high school to attend the US Youth Climate Strike. She is also the former National Press Director of U.S. Youth Climate Strike.
- Isra Hirsi | Minnesota |@israhirsi
Hirsa, the daughter of congresswoman Ilhan Omar, is an environmental justice organizer, progressive political consultant, and Black Lives Matter activist. She co-founded the US Youth Climate Strike in 2019 and helped organize more than 100,000 young people to strike for climate justice.
- Jamie Margolin | New York| @Jamie_Margolin
Margolin is the founder and co-director of Zero Hour, a youth climate coalition that mobilizes young people to take action on climate. In 2019, she testified before Congress, alongside other young climate change activists. Margolin is recently the author of the book Youth Power.
- Jasilyn Charger | South Dakota | @jasilyncharger
Charger is an indigenous environmental protector from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. They helped found the International Indigenous Youth Council and coordinated a 2,000-mile run from North Dakota to Washington to bring attention to the extractive industries threatening their community. Charger continues to fight the Keystone XL pipeline and helped start 7th Defenders, a grassroots organization supporting youth in their community.
- Jerome Foster | New York | @JeromeFosterII
Foster recently started OneMillionOfUs, an organization aimed at mobilizing 1 million young people to vote. He also has a blog called The Climate Reporter that connected him with other young environmental leaders. In 2018, he helped organize youth climate marches and began striking in front of the White House every Friday before serving as an intern for the late congressman John Lewis.
- Kevin J Patel | California | @imkevinjpatel
Patel is the founder of One Up Action, a climate activism group working to help young people become leaders. He also serves as a 2020 National Geographic Young Explorerand as a member of the Circle of Youth council, the Climate Power 2020 council, and the Intersectional Environmentalist council. Patel was spurred to action when he was diagnosed at 14 with heart palpitations stemming from pollution in Los Angeles.
- Keyra Juliana Espinoza | New York | @keyra_juliana
Espinoza is an advocate for the environment and BIPOC rights and is a member of the organizations Polluters Out and El Cambio en Ecuador.
- Khadija Khokhar | Michigan | @khadija_khokhar_
Khokhar is an organizer for Fridays for the Future and a fellow at Zero Hour, where she works to increase youth and first-time voter turnout in communities across the metro Detroit area.
- Leah Thomas | California | @Leahtommi
Thomas is eco-communicator and founder of Intersectional Environmentalist platform that shares resources, information, and action steps to dismantle systems of oppression in the environmental movement. She also works as a speaker, writer, and brand strategist for organizations fighting for social and environmental justice.
- Lilah Amon-Lucas | Washington | @lilahamonlucas
Amon-Lucas is a climate justice activist organizing with Washington Youth For Climate Justice. She also started a podcast about youth activism called How to Activism, where she walks you through the process of becoming an effective activist.
- Mari Copeny | Michigan | @LittleMissFlint
Copeny holds weekly water distribution events for Flint residents called #WednesdaysForWater. Her activism started when the drinking water in her town of Flint, Michigan made people sick. In 2016, she wrote then-President Barack Obama asking him to do something about the crisis and their meeting went viral.
- Nadia Nazar | @nadianazar02
Nazar is an Indian American artist and youth climate activist. She is the co-founder, co-executive director, and art director of the Zero Hour movement. Nazar uses her art to communicate the urgent need for climate action.
- Nalleli Cobo | California | @NalleliCobo
Cobo is the co-founder of People not Pozos and South Central Youth Leadership Coalition, as well as an active member of S.T.A.N.D Los Angeles. She began her activism after growing worried about smells coming from the oil site in her neighborhood in South Los Angeles.
- Rose Whipple | Minnesota
Whipple is an indigenous rights activist and water protector from the Santee Dakota and Ho-Chunk nations, as well as co-founder of META Liberation for Black and brown bodies, a mutual-aid organization making space for BIPOC to heal and organize. She spoke at COP25 UN Conference on Climate Change in 2019 and has been a leading voice against the proposed Line 3 oil pipeline in Minnesota, suing the state after its approval of the pipeline.
- Shiv Soin | New York | @ShivSoin
Soin is executive Director of TREEage, a youth-led climate justice organization fighting for climate justice in New York City and State.
- Sophia Kianni | Virginia | @SophiaKianni
Kianni is the founder of Climate Cardinals, an international nonprofit working to translate climate information into over 100 languages. She has helped organize nationwide strikes and is also one of seven young people on UN Secretary General’s Youth Advisory Group.
- Sophie Guthier | Wisconsin | @sophieguthier
Guthier is the social media manager for Sunrise Movement, an organization working to “stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process.”
- Vic Barrett | New York | @vict_barrett
Barrett went to Paris to speak at the COP21 UN Conference on Climate Change as a Fellow with the Alliance for Climate Education. He was a plaintiff in the lawsuit brought against the US government for failing to act to take action on climate change.
- Wanjiku “Wawa” Gatheru | Connecticut | @wawagatheru
Wawa Gatheru is now a Rhodes, Truman & Udall Scholar researching the overlooked barriers that prevent youth of color from engaging in environmental education and scholarship. While a senior in college, she co-founded the UConn Access to Food Effort, an initiative that helped launch the first assessment of food insecurity at the university.
- Xiye Bastida | New York | @xiyebastida
Bastida, a member of the indigenous Mexican Otomi-Toltec nation, is one of the major organizers of #FridaysforFuture New York City and serves on the administrative committee of the People’s Climate Movement. She is also a member of the Sunrise Movement, Extinction Rebellion.
- Zanagee Artis | @nageeartis
Artis is a student at Brown University and co-founder and policy director of Zero Hour, which aims to provide entry points, training, and resources to get young people involved in climate activism.
Alphabetized by country, then first name.
- Nicole Becker | Argentina | @nickibecker
Becker co-founded Jovenes Por El Clima, a group looking at the climate crisis through a Latin American and human rights lens. In 2019, the group succeeded in pushing the country to declare a Climate and Ecological Emergency and pass the first Climate Change Law. She often speaks about the dangers faced by environmentalists in Latin America.
- Katta O’Donnell | Australia
O’Donnell is leading a class-action lawsuit accusing the Australian government for failing to disclose the risks of climate change to those investing in government bonds.
- Paloma Costa | Brazil | @pcopaloma
Costa is a lawyer and human rights defender who has coordinated the youth delegations to several climate conferences. She is a Socioambiental defender, climate educator, and youth mobilizer who organizes with Free the Future. She’s also a member of the UN Secretary General Youth Advisory Group
- Charlene Rocha | Canada | @_charlenerocha
Rocha is a climate change activist with #FridaysforFuture and Break the Chains Pickering. She is also a TEDx speaker.
- Angela Valenzuela | Chile
Valenzuela is a climate activist, 350.org organizer, and former coordinator with #FridaysForFuture Chile. She has been active in the global youth climate strikes and in Chile’s popular uprising.
- Ou Hongyi | China | @howey_ou
Ou is a leader of #FridaysforFuture in China. In May 2019, Ou staged her very first climate action strike in front of local government offices for seven days before officials detained her for questioning. Ou is one of few climate activists in China and has continued her work with caution.
- Ernest Gibson | Fiji | @ErnestKGibson
Gibson is the co-coordinator for 350 Fiji, a regional youth-led climate change network, and a member of the U.N. Secretary General Youth Advisory Group. He aims to ensure that indigenous communities are heard in the climate conversation.
- Nathan Metenier | France | @Nathan_MetenierMetenier is the cofounder of Generation Climate Europe, spokesperson for Youth and Environment Europe, regional director of Youth4Nature, and a member of the U.N. Secretary General Youth Advisory Group.
- Fatou Lamin Jeng | Gambia | @fatoulaminjeng1
Jeng is the Founder of Clean Earth Gambia, a “trillion trees” campaigner with Plant For The Planet, and a leader on gender and climate change with the International Youth Climate Movement.
- Luisa Neubauer | Germany | @Luisamneubauer
Neubauer is a writer and one of the main organizers of the #FridaysforFuture movement in Germany. With the campaign ‘Divest! Withdraw your money!’, Neubauer forced the University of Göttingen to stop investing in industries that make money with coal, oil, or gas.
- Pomeyie Perk | Ghana | @perk_gh
Pomeyie Perk is a graphic designer and national coordinator for the Ghana Youth Environmental Movement. Perk collaborated with the International Youth Climate Movement to mobilize during the UN’s Africa Climate Week in Accra in March 2019. He continues to use graphic design and social media to mobilize young people around #FridaysforFuture and #SchoolClimateStrike.
- Archana Soreng | India | @SorengArchana
Soreng was recently chosen as one of the seven members of the UN Secretary General’s Youth Advisory Group on climate change and is a research officer at Vasundhara Odisha. She belongs to the indigenous Khadia Tribe, hailing from Sundergarh District of Odisha, India and has worked to preserve the traditional knowledge and cultural practices of indigenous communities.
- John Paul Jose | India | @johnpauljos
Jose is a writer and activist with Greenpeace and Zero Hour. He is also a Global Peace Ambassador and one of the youth leaders of #FridaysForFuture in India.
- Ridhima Pandey | India @ridhimapandey7
Pandey is a climate change activist and TEDx speaker. She was one of 16 child petitioners, including Greta Thunberg, who filed a complaint with the UN in 2019 about the lack of government action on the climate change crisis. Pandey also sued the Indian government in 2017 for inaction on climate change.
- Carlon Zackhras | Marshall Islands
Zackhras organizes with #FridaysForFuture and was a part of the youth coalition that spoke at COP25 in 2019. He urged world leaders to take action and spoke about the rising sea levels that threaten his home
- Xiuhtexcatl Martinez | Mexico | @xiuhtezcatl
Martinez is a musician and environmental activist. He is the youth director of Earth Guardians and has filed two lawsuits in the name of climate change. The first, in 2015, was against the Obama administration and the second, in 2018, was against the Colorado Oil Conservation.
- Vladislav Kaim | Moldova | @VladislavKaim
Kaim is a young economist and member of the UN Secretary General Youth Advisory Group and is committed to pushing for clear macroeconomic improvements and green and decent jobs for youth.
- Kisha Erah Muaña | Philippines
Muaña is the founder and Program Director of STEP Philippines and an oceans campaigner with Greenpeace SouthEast Asia. He was the only youth leader from the Philippines who joined COP25.
- Arshak Makichyan | Russia | @MakichyanA
Makichyan is an activist from Moscow who was briefly jailed in July after striking on Fridays in Pushkin Square. He continues to plan digital strikes, highlighting important issues each Friday, posting art and photos under #ClimateStrikeOnline.
- Holly Gillibrand | Scotland | @HollyWildChild
Gillibrand is a young ambassador for Scotland: The Big Picture and a campaigner for animal welfare charity OneKind. She has worked from her small town, in the remote, mountainous Scottish Highlands, to build a UK youth climate movement.
- Nisreen Elsaim | Sudan | @NisreenElsaim
Elsaim is a junior negotiator and a part of the social movement bringing democratic change in Sudan. She is a member of the UN Secretary General Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change.
- Leah Namugerwa | Uganda | @NamugerwaLeah
Namugerwa is a #FridaysForFuture striker in Kampala who has led a campaign for tree planting and a campaign to urge the city to implement a ban on plastic bags. She speaks about the media’s silence on environmental injustice and makes calls for the Ugandan government to enforce existing environmental legislation.
- Nakabuye Hilda Flavia | Uganda | @NakabuyeHildaF
Flavia is a founder and organizer of #FridaysForFuture in Uganda and a campaigner for Green Campaign Africa. She champions the voices of those feeling the impacts of the climate crisis in Africa on the global stage.
- Vanessa Nakate | Uganda | @vanessa_vash
Nakate is the founder of the 1 Million Activist Stories project, which shares world experiences of global climate activists. She also started the Rise up Movement to help amplify voices from Africa in the climate movement.
- Katie Hodgetts | United Kingdom | @KTclimate
Hodgetts is a UK Youth Climate Coalition campaigner and Trustee at Bristol Youth Strike 4 Climate. She organized a strike of over 25,000 people in Bristol, England and recently started an organization called The Resilience Project to work with youth climate activists building resilience and tackling activism burnout.
- Mikaela Loach | United Kingdom | @mikaelaloach
Loach is a climate justice activist, co-host of The YIKES Podcast, writer and medical student, and a part of the The Intersectional Environmentalist council. She is passionate about addressing the intersections of racial injustice and migration with the climate crisis and works to make activist spaces more inclusive and accessible.