At the age of 10, Lucia Paulsen started to learn a lot about climate change. Earlier this year, she joined the Sunrise Movement, a group organizing young people to discuss and manage the climate change crisis.
Paulsen attended a strike in March, where young demonstrators stood in solidarity with Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. The strike inspired Paulsen to start a Sunrise hub in Charlotte, N.C. “I always wanted to do something, but it wasn’t until then that I realized I could.”
Paulsen had been involved with some LGBTQ-related activism before, but the March 15 strike was her first climate-focused action.
The group received a lot of press coverage after members staged a protest outside of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Washington, D.C. office with then Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio Cortez in an effort to convince the speaker to push forward some sort of policy to deal with climate change. While Speaker Pelosi was not the source of that policy, the proposed Green New Deal addressed many of the group’s concerns and is supported by the official organization. The Green New Deal, a nonbinding resolution, failed in the House.
Now, the Sunrise movement is pushing for a climate change debate authorized by the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Officially, the DNC has rejected the idea of a climate change debate, and committee rules bar anyone participating in an unauthorized debate from sharing the stage in an official debate.
Official debates held by the DNC, so far, have included some questions on issues related to climate change, but Paulsen says it isn’t enough. There are more questions that need to be answered. “We need to be holding this climate debate to ask all of them.”
Paulsen has a message for previous generations. She says that people have been working on climate activism for a long time, even though support for the movement has grown rapidly in a short amount of time. She says she is grateful for those people, because without them, climate activism could not have become an issue on the national stage. “It starts with a few people and then more people find out about it. It gets bigger and bigger, like a snowball.”
At just 13, Paulsen is organizing another strike — this one in an effort to change the official DNC position on climate change. In coordination with the national group, Paulsen’s hub of activists will stage a protest on the morning of Sept. 20 from 9:30-11:30 a.m. at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center, 600 E. 4th St.
More on the Sunrise Movement is available at sunrisemovement.org.