Top 20 Under 20: Youth Climate Voices

A youth climate activist at a protest.
  • Aug 26, 2021

Around the world, millions of young people have gotten involved in the fight against climate change. Through their efforts to advocate for our planet and urge world leaders to take action, many of these young leaders have become some of the most prominent voices in the climate movement. Here are 20 of the most inspiring climate activists under the age of 20:

1. Alexandria Villaseñor is a 16-year-old climate activist. She is the founder of the organization Earth Uprising, which educates and mobilizes young climate activists. Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Alexandria skipped school and protested outside the United Nations headquarters in New York City every Friday for more than a year. Follow her on Twitter @AlexandriaV2005 or Instagram @alexandriav2005.

2. Anna Kernahan is a 19-year-old activist from Belfast, Northern Ireland. Anna has held Fridays For Future strikes in Belfast for the past 102 weeks—and has often been the sole striker in attendance. Along with fellow activists Grace Madrell and Helen Jackson, Anna launched a Twitter account called Solo But Not Alone to highlight and connect Fridays For Future strikers around the world who are located in more remote locations and strike by themselves. Follow them on Twitter @AnnaKernahan or Instagram @annakernahan_

3. Autumn Peltier is a 16-year-old Canadian clean water activist from Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory in Ontario. Autumn has advocated for the preservation of drinking water for Indigenous peoples since she was 8 years old. She has spoken before the United Nations General Assembly, the World Economic Forum, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about the importance of clean water. Follow her on Instagram @autumn.peltier or Twitter @AutumnPeltier1.

4. Dara McAnulty is a 17-year-old Irish activist and author. He has published two books, Diary of a Young Naturalist, which received the Wainwright Prize for UK Nature Writing in 2020, and Wild Child. He is an ambassador for the Jane Goodall Institute, which is a global conservation organization. Follow him on Twitter @NaturalistDara or Instagram @dara_mcanulty

5. Dylan Hamilton is a 17-year-old climate activist from Scotland. He began participating in climate strikes when he was 14 years old and has done weekly strikes for the past 131 weeks. He was selected to represent the UK at the Youth Summit ahead of this year’s COP26, where he and nearly 400 other young climate activists will develop concrete proposals for the COP26 attendees. Follow him on Twitter @_DylanHamilton_.

6. Elijah Mckenzie-Jackson is a 17-year-old based in London who has made headlines for his climate activism. In 2019, he protested a planned (now cancelled) expansion of the Heathrow Airport in London and nearly faced arrest. In January 2021, he went on a 10-day hunger strike in protest of a proposed coal mine in England. Follow him on Twitter @elijahmckenzee or Instagram @elijahmckenziejackson. 

7. Greta Thunberg is an 18-year-old Swedish climate activist and one of the most prominent climate activists in the world. In August 2018, Greta began her weekly “School Strike for the Climate,” which has turned into the global youth movement Fridays For Future. She has addressed numerous world leaders, including the UN and the United States Congress, urging them to take action on climate change. In 2019 she was named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year. Follow her on Twitter @GreatThunberg or Instagram @gretathunberg.

8. Haven Coleman is a 15-year-old climate activist and organizer from Colorado. She co-founded the U.S. Youth Climate Strike along with Isra Hirsi and Alexandra Villaseñor. Haden first caught people’s attention when videos emerged of her speaking passionately about climate change to politicians at their town hall meetings—when she was just 12 years old. Follow her on Twitter @havenruthie or Instagram @climateactivist

9. Helena Gualinga is a 19-year-old environmental and human rights activist from a small Indigenous community in Ecuador in the Amazon rainforest. She advocates for the protection of Indigenous lands from oil companies. Helena spoke at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP25) in December 2019, calling out world leaders for climate inaction. Follow her on Instagram @helenagualinga.

10. Holly Gillibrand is a 16-year-old environmental activist from Scotland. In recognition of her work as an organizer for Fridays For Future Scotland, Holly was named Young Scotswoman of the Year by the Glasgow Times in 2019 and was the youngest person featured on BBC's Woman's Hour Power List in 2020. Follow her on Twitter @HollyWildChild.

11. Isra Hirsi is the 18-year-old daughter of Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and a prominent climate activist. She is the co-founder and co-executive director of the U.S. Youth Climate Strike and has organized hundreds of youth-led climate strikes across the country. In 2019 she was one of 6 recipients of the Brower Youth Awards, North America's top prize for bold young environmental leaders. Follow her on Twitter @israhirsi or Instagram @israhirsi.

12. Jamie Margolin is the 19-year-old founder of the youth climate organization Zero Hour, an intersectional movement of youth climate activists. As the Latina, Jewish daughter of a Colombian immigrant, she gave a TED talk about how climate change can be solved by addressing social injustices. Follow her on Twitter @Jamie_Margolin or Instagram @jamie_s_margolin.

13. Jerome Foster II is a 19-year-old climate activist from Washington D.C. He is the youngest member of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, and he has developed virtual reality experiences to help people learn more about issues such as ocean plastic pollution, melting glaciers, and fossil fuel pollution. He has spoken about the climate crisis before the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights and the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. Follow him on Twitter @JeromeFosterII or Instagram @jeromefosterii.

14. Licypriya Kangujam is one of the world’s youngest climate activists at just 9 years old. For the past 3 years, she has protested the parliament of her home country of India, demanding they take urgent action on climate change. In 2019, when she was just 8 years old, she demanded the same of other world leaders when she spoke at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP25). Follow her on Twitter @licypriyak or Instagram @licypriyakangujam.

15. Lilly Platt is a 13-year-old environmental champion from the Netherlands. When she was 7 years old, she started an initiative called “Lilly’s Plastic Pickup,” through which she has picked up more than 100,000 pieces of plastic to date! Lilly has gained global recognition for her activism and has spoken at several major environmental events, including the UN World Oceans Day in 2020. Follow her on Twitter @lillyspickup or Instagram @lillys_plastic_pickup

16. Leah Namugerwa is a 17-year-old climate activist from Uganda who has become a prominent climate voice in her country. She participates in Fridays For Future school strikes every Friday and started a petition to President Museveni for Uganda to ban plastic bags. Follow her on Twitter @NamugerwaLeah or Instagram @namugerwaleah

17. Mari Copeny, also known as “Little Miss Flint,” is a 14-year-old from Flint, Michigan. In 2016, she wrote a letter to President Obama about Flint’s water crisis, which inspired him to travel to Flint and gave the city national attention. She now uses her platform to bring awareness to the Flint water crisis, as well as raise donations for water bottles, books, toys, and other resources for Flint residents. Follow her on Twitter @LittleMissFlint or Instagram @littlemissflint.

18. Nadia Nazar is an 18-year-old Indian-American artist and climate activist who uses art in the fight against climate change. She is a founder, co-executive director, and art director for Zero Hour, a youth-led international climate justice organization. She was one of the lead organizers for the 2019 Climate Strikes in Washington DC. She has testified in Congress and spoken before the United Nations about climate change, and she was named one of People Magazine’s Top 25 Women Changing the World in 2018. Follow her on Twitter @nadiabaltimore or Instagram @nadianazar

19. Saoi O’Connor is an 18-year-old activist from Cork, Ireland. Saoi started the Fridays For Future strikes outside Cork City Council in April 2019 and has continued every Friday for the last 118 weeks (including a few weeks of virtual striking at the start of the pandemic). Saoi spoke at COP25 in Madrid and was named Outstanding Individual by the Cork Environmental Forum in 2019. Follow them on Twitter @saoi4climate or Instagram @saoioconnor. 

20. Xiye Bastida is a 19-year-old climate activist. She and her family moved to New York City after her Indigenous community in Mexico was ravaged by heavy rainfall and flooding. As a lead organizer of the Fridays For Future youth climate strikes, Xiye fights to keep Indigenous peoples at the forefront of the climate conversation. Follow her on Twitter @xiyebastida or Instagram @xiyebeara.

At CleanChoice Energy, we envision a world free of catastrophic climate change for all. We are constantly inspired by these young climate activists and are grateful for the work they do to help make our vision a reality.

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