High school stu­dents across the Twin Cities staged a walk­out to de­mand ac­tion on cli­mate change Fri­day, meet­ing en masse at the State Capitol to press lawmakers on the is­sue.

“We need to cause an up­roar,” said Maya Sprenger-Otto, an organizer and student at Washburn High School in Minneapolis, addressing a crowd of several hundred teens on the Capitol steps. “We won’t be stopped until substantial change is made.”

Fri­day’s stu­dent “strike” in the Twin Cities was part of a wave of youth-led cli­mate dem­on­stra­tions across the globe. Sim­i­lar walk­outs, in­spired by a pro­test staged by a Swed­ish teen, were held in more than 100 cit­ies world­wide, with some rallies at­tract­ing tens of thou­sands of march­ers.

In Minnesota, students also gathered in Duluth and Rochester.

Students at the St. Paul ral­ly said their goal is to send a mes­sage to lawmakers that they want im­me­di­ate change to pro­tect their fu­ture. Many cited a 2018 Unit­ed Na­tions re­port on cli­mate change call­ing for “rapid and far-reach­ing” chan­ges to slow glo­bal warm­ing in the com­ing years. Fail­ure to act, authors cau­tioned, will re­sult in dire and ir­re­vers­ible con­se­quences for both the en­vi­ron­ment and the world’s pop­u­la­tion.

Ruthie Hot­ting­er, a seventh-grader from Shore­view, wor­ries that “things are get­ting out of con­trol and it’s scary.” Three friends told her in the last week that they don’t want to have chil­dren be­cause they fear the ef­fects of cli­mate change will have on the world, she said.

“In my fu­ture I see a world that’s safe to live in and smil­ing faces all around,” Hot­ting­er, 13, told the crowd. But that’s not going to hap­pen if you and I don’t stand up for what we want and what we need.”

Max Sher­man, a seni­or at De La Sal­le High School, echoed those calls for im­me­di­ate ac­tion.

“We need to get in­volved and show the gov­ern­ment that we can’t just stand back while we bas­i­cal­ly have 11 years left to save the plan­et and save our­selves,” said Sher­man, who took Metro Transit to the ral­ly along with 80 of his peers from the pri­vate Catholic high school. Like many oth­er groups, Sher­man and his class­mates or­gan­ized their walk­out plans using so­cial me­di­a and word of mouth.

The hun­dreds of sign-carry­ing stu­dents gath­ered at the Capitol brought a long list of pol­icy de­mands. Teen or­gan­iz­ers said a na­tion­al em­er­gen­cy on cli­mate is long o­ver­due. They called for ac­tion on clean wa­ter, cli­mate ed­u­ca­tion in schools and pas­sage of the Green New Deal, a sweep­ing fed­er­al res­o­lu­tion fo­cused on re­new­a­ble en­er­gy, health care and jobs. On the state level, the stu­dents urged pas­sage of a bill man­dat­ing 100 percent re­new­a­ble en­er­gy use by 2050 and an end to the En­bridge Line 3 oil pipe­line re­place­ment pro­ject.

“If ac­tion isn’t tak­en now, it will be our mess to clean up,” said Far­rah Bergstrom, a sopho­more at Wayzata High School who has worked on pro­gres­sive cam­paigns since age 13. “It’s im­per­a­tive that lead­ers and legis­la­tors in this Capitol rec­og­nize our deep con­cern for cli­mate change. This isn’t a dis­tant is­sue, it’s some­thing that’s going to have very se­vere in­flu­ence on us in the near fu­ture.”

Beyond those im­me­di­ate goals, stu­dent ac­tiv­ists said they hope to spark a broad­er cul­tur­al shift. Some of the loud­est cheers came as speak­ers made the case that the impacts of cli­mate change go be­yond the en­vi­ron­ment and the ec­on­omy. At it’s heart, they said, it’s an is­sue of ra­cial jus­tice and equi­ty.

“This move­ment needs to be dif­fer­ent in terms of we should be work­ing with mar­gin­al­ized com­mu­ni­ties. No one knows our strug­gle like we do,” said youth radio host Brit­ney Chi­no, a stu­dent ac­tiv­ist with Young Peoples Ac­tion Coalition St. Paul. “I saw a post­er earli­er to­day say­ing cli­mate change does not af­fect all e­qual­ly, and that is the truth.”

Public o­pin­ion sur­veys suggest cli­mate change is a mo­bi­liz­ing force for young voters, who went to the polls in re­cord num­bers in 2018. March­ers said they ex­pect the is­sue to be a top pri­or­i­ty for their voting-age peers in the up­com­ing e­lec­tion. Signs read­ing “Vote the cow­ards out!” and “De­ni­al is not pol­icy” float­ed above the crowd.

“We’ve shown our pow­er and we do not plan to stop,” said Sprenger-Otto, who plans to cast her first bal­lot next year. “That will be car­ried out into 2020 and be­yond.”