Thousands of teenagers are pledging not to have children until their governments take greater steps to combat climate change.
The promise is part of #NoFutureNoChildren, a movement started by Emma Lim, an 18-year-old student at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. Lim's pledge, which has attracted teenagers from throughout the U.S. and Canada, is to forgo starting a family until more action is taken against global warming.
"People joining the pledge are giving up parenthood, which is supposed to be one of the most important things to us," Lim told Vice Canada. “This will show how serious we are about this and how grave this issue is."
Lim said the idea for her movement began in May while she watched the legislative assembly in her home province of Ontario, debate climate change solutions. She quickly became disenchanted, feeling that government officials were not doing as much as they should.
After talking with friends for several months, the 18-year-old officially launched #NoFutureNoChildren last Monday with a "climate strike" at Canada's Parliament Hill. And Lim's pledge has only gained momentum since then: As of Tuesday morning, more than 3,200 people have signed on.
The online pledge simply asks participants for their name, age and an explanation of why they're making the decision to hold off on having children.
For Lim, the decision was part of a desire to create a better world for future generations.
"Because even though I want to have children more than almost anything, what kind of a mother would I be if I brought a baby into a world where I couldn’t make sure they were safe?" Lim writes on the homepage of her website.
Lim said her parents were some of the first people to respond to her decision, telling Vice Canada she saw "massive changes" in them when they heard she was waiting to have children.
"For the first time, the impact of climate change became real to them," she said. "You read about hurricane stories and heat waves, but the massive, most catastrophic events haven’t touched us yet in Canada. There’s flooding but it hasn’t really affected my immediate family. But this hurts; this is something tangible."
The #NoFutureNoChildren movement comes during a month full of youth-led climate activism throughout the world.
Last Friday, as many as 4 million people — many of them children and students — joined in a worldwide "climate strike." The event comprised more than 2,500 separate rallies and was likely the largest single climate protest ever.
Just days later, 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg delivered an impassioned speech at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, condemning world leaders for placing the burden of global warming on her generation.
"I shouldn't be up here. I should be back at school on the other side of the ocean," the Swedish activist said Monday. "Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you! You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words."