Portland students will be joining others across the country and around the globe as they walk out of school tomorrow to strike. The students are demanding action on climate change – an issue they say was caused by older generations but disproportionately impacts theirs. 

Organizers expect anywhere from a few hundred a few thousand students could converge on Portland’s City Hall to march, speak and ask leaders to support legislation to fight climate change.

Protesters including the Raging Grannies, as well Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, Friends of the Columbia Gorge and high school students from the Portland Youth Climate Council, gathered in front of City Hall on Wednesday, March 13, to oppose the expansion of Zenith Terminals, which could increase the number of oil trains moving through Portland.

Protesters including the Raging Grannies, as well Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, Friends of the Columbia Gorge and high school students from the Portland Youth Climate Council, gathered in front of City Hall on Wednesday, March 13, to oppose the expansion of Zenith Terminals, which could increase the number of oil trains moving through Portland.

Tony Schick/OPB

Students will start to gather at City Hall at 10:30 a.m. on Friday and talks will begin at 11 a.m. Portland Public Schools sent out a letter to parents Thursday afternoon reminding them that any students who walk out will be marked absent. And while the district says it encourages students to be informed and express their views, they should do it “outside the school day.”

Some schools may take a harder stance on activism-related absences, but if they do that would be at the discretion of the school’s principal, said district spokesman Harry Esteve.

The concept of a climate strike was popularized by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, who has skipped school every Friday to strike outside the Swedish Parliament building. On March 14, she was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for her activism.

Other students followed in her wake, like Alexandria Villasenor. The 13-year-old has stood in front of the United Nations building in New York City every week since Dec. 14, regardless of weather.

Oregon youth have an established history of climate activism. Just last week, the City of Portland filed amicus briefs in support of two cases where youth are suing the government over climate change, Chernaik v. Brown and Juliana v. United States. Both cases were started by students in Oregon.

At a press conference announcing the amicus brief, students from the climate lawsuits declared their intent to strike and echoed the sentiments of Villasenor, Thunberg and others: why go to school, when the jobs they’re training for might not be around? Before they can train for a future, they say, they have to secure it.

There are marches scheduled at 1,769 sites in 112 countries.