If Biden doesn’t deliver a bold enough climate agenda, youth climate activists will make their frustration known.
“What we’re going to do is what we do best and that’s disrupt,” said Fallahi. “As you see our anger rising, you can expect that the next step is we’re going to take action,” she remarked.
Disruptive action seems more difficult, though, when in-person action remains limited amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The massive youth climate strikes that once galvanized international attention and led to a flurry of climate emergency declarations have become impracticable.
At the same time, digital communication has offered internet and social media-savvy youth climate activists unique opportunities to amplify their demands.
Invoking her experiences targeting fossil fuel companies with Polluters Out, Fallahi suggested that youth climate activists could create “cyber storms.” Some strategies are calling the White House, bombarding federal aides with emails, and posting en masse on social media to drum up public pressure.
“Cyber storms” would likely be the least of Biden’s problems if the White House fails to make youth climate activists like Fallahi feel heard. Such failure could also diminish support for Democratic majorities in Congress among a key block of voters ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, according to Mulholland of Data for Progress.
Failing to deliver could also jeopardize a potential 2024 presidential run by current Vice President Kamala Harris. Given that Biden is expected to serve only a single term in office, many see Harris as a natural successor.
“Young people are the future of this country,” said Mulholland. “If you want to win elections, you should make sure that they feel their perspective is included,” she continued.
The extent to which the Biden administration engages with the youth climate movement remains to be seen. What’s certain is that young Americans will be keeping a close watch.
“We helped get Biden elected and this is not how our generation is going to be paid back—in scraps.” Fallahi refuses action that’s “more symbolic than effective.” “And I have full faith that the youth will be able to get that message across. Not just to the Biden administration but to the rest of the country too,” she added.
This story originally appeared in Climate Tracker and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.