So What’s the Deal with the Climate Strike? Portland Protests and the Green New Deal – Part I

by Clara McAuley

In this day and age, climate change has become a pressing problem, drawing international attention in the forms of both action and denial. And now, youth all over the world are taking to the streets to ask for change. In fact, on Friday, September 20th, students all around Portland are leaving school to go to protests downtown. But what are they really asking for?

Students at Portland’s last Climate Strike in May of 2019 (taken by Wesley Lapointe of Willamette Week)

The answer may seem obvious; an end to climate change. But it actually isn’t that simple. The citizens of Portland want more than just a goal — they want a course of action. And that is why people all over the city are demanding a Green New Deal for Oregon. 

The Green New Deal is a proposed United States legislation. The goal of the Green New Deal is to achieve a national transition to 100% renewable energy by 2030, and the deal itself has already been enacted in over 100 cities and multiple states. The deal involves investment in sustainable agriculture, public transit, and green businesses. Furthermore, it would entail a redirection of fossil fuel research funds, which would instead go towards cleaner, more renewable energy sources and research on wind energy, hydropower, solar power, and geothermal energy. The Green New Deal would also provide thousands of new jobs.

While that is the basic idea of what the strike is for, I wanted to look into it further and ask OES students what the Climate Strike means to them. Connor M., ‘21, who is leaving school for the strike, explained to me why he is going. “I decided to go to this Friday’s climate strike for a variety of reasons, but the most striking one for me was watching places that I love burn,” he says. “The climate crisis isn’t a partisan issue, and it isn’t something that I’m gonna approach from the sidelines. It’s time that I do something that leaves a mark. Every voice counts in an issue like this, and I’ll add mine in every way I can.”

Rebecca B., ‘20 couldn’t attend the strike, however, she also had a lot to say. “I feel that the Green New Bill is desperately needed,” she said. “Not only does it work for a just and sustainable economy, but it also calls upon climate and community resilience to ensure a future for those who are most jeopardized by climate change.” 

It is unclear whether the state of Oregon will pass a Green New Deal or work hard to end climate change, but there is no doubt that people like Connor and Rebecca will fight to make it happen. After all, in the words of Rebecca, “students are choosing to sacrifice their education for their future. We want climate action and we need it now.”


Danko, Pete. “Oregon Green New Deal movement emerges.” Portland Business Journal, 24 Jan. 2019, Accessed 19 Sept. 2019.

“Green New Deal.” Green Party US, Accessed 19 Sept.

Nguyen, Ryan. “Teen Activists Will Lead a Climate Strike in Portland This Week. Here’s What to Expect.” Willamette Week, 15 Sept. 2019, portland-this-week-heres-what-to-expect/. Accessed 19 Sept. 2019.

“PDX Climate Strike.” The Action Network, Accessed 19 Sept. 2019.