In the wake of last year’s coal-fueled climate talks in Poland, Alexandria Villaseñor began a solitary protest in front of the United Nations. She was following in the footsteps of Swedish teen Greta Thunberg, and their solitary strikes quickly built one of the most prolific climate movements in the world as students have repeatedly gone on strike around the world.
The strikes have raised awareness about climate change and won over adult supporters, but the world continues to careen toward a climate crisis. That’s why Villaseñor, Thunberg, and 14 other children filed a landmark complaint at the United Nations (UN) on Monday. In the complaint, they allege that the world is violating their rights as children enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. They name five countries, but if their complaint is successful, it would force those countries to work with others to reduce carbon pollution and recognize that climate change is a children’s rights crisis.
In an exclusive sitdown with Earther, Villaseñor explained why she’s suing five of the world’s biggest carbon polluters, what brought her to activism, and her message to the rest of her generation:
“We want you to go out and take action for your rights, too,” she told Earther.
So, uh, go get it, teens.