What to Know
Thousands of people have flooded the streets of New York City, joining a global call for action on climate change
Swedish activist Greta Thunberg and two of the 21 plaintiffs who filed a climate lawsuit against the U.S. government are among the marchers
Public schools students were given the green light to skip school Friday to join the rallies - as long as they had their parents' permission
"The levels are rising and so are we."
Thousands of people took to New York City streets Friday to help fight climate change, joining worldwide demonstrations ahead of a U.N. summit. Public schools throughout the city even let kids skip class to join the cause.
With home-made signs, some which read "The Earth. Is. Not. Expendable (Period)," "¡PUERTO RICO SE LEVANTA!" and "WE ARE MISSING OUR LESSONS SO WE CAN YEACH YOU ONE," the enthusiastic crowd flooded the Big Apple in hopes of having their message heard.
The sea of young people, including Swedish activist Greta Thurnberg and two of the 21 young plaintiffs who filed a constitutional climate lawsuit against the U.S. government, among other climate activists, took over the streets, assembling at Foley Square to march to Battery Park for a rally.
The flood of people marching in New York City, holding signs as they chanted, mirrored similar rallies across the globe. Activists are calling for immediate action from the world's governments to halt global warming, reduce fossil fuel consumption and avert environmental catastrophe.
Thunberg says that rather than listen to her and other young activists, lawmakers should invite scientists to the Capitol to listen to their expertise on ways to slow a rise in global temperatures, Thunberg said.
"This is not about us. This is not about youth activism," she said. "We don't want to be heard. We want the science to be heard."
Student activist Faiza Azam told NBC 4 New York the impact of the youth-led rallies is worldwide.
"That our generation has a huge impact over the world, it means that us as individuals united in a group can change the way people live," Azam said.
Another student activist, Alioune Andow, shared similar sentiments.
"It means a lot to me. I think this is really important," Andow said, adding "this is our future and we don't want to be left with all the pollution."
Logan Miller, 15, attended the protest from the Hudson School in Hoboken. He was holding a home-made sign that reads “I like my dinner hot, not my planet."
Meanwhile, 15-year-old Sariya Sealey from The Beacon School in New York said people need to act now to save the planet.
“We need to focus on more sustainable recycling, because even a 1 percent change is huge for the earth," Sealey said.
Gov. Cuomo commended those participating in the global climate protests.
"Our young people understand climate change is no longer up for debate - it's a reality based in science - and, like the State of New York, they are taking matters into their own hands to fight it," Cuomo said in a statement. "I commend the thousands of students who are participating in the Global Climate Strike today and demanding solutions to this crisis before it gets worse.
"This next generation of Americans will pay the price if the federal administration's inaction continues. Leaders in Washington need to finally step up and listen to the youth of the world and follow the lead of New York and other states," his statement went on to say.
Sept. 20 also marks the 2-year anniversary since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico and killed thousands of people and a Puerto Rico Day of Action will be part of the climate strike.
Scientific reports have predicted that rising sea temperatures will increase the maximum intensity of hurricanes by the end of the century. Most recently, catastrophic Category 5 Hurricane Dorian destroyed parts of the Bahamas.
Friday's event organizers said that more than 800 events were planned across the country for the "global climate strike," while in Germany over 400 rallies have been registered. Campaigners are also staging protests in most other European countries, Australia, Japan, India, South Africa, Canada and dozens of other locations. It follows a similar coordinated protest in March that drew many tens of thousands around the world.