Jeremy Strong, the actor famed for his portrayal of Kendall Roy in HBO’s “Succession,” is backing disruptive climate activists hoping to kick-start the movement with a series of September protests.
Strong spoke Thursday during a Zoom call with donors to the Climate Emergency Fund — a group that funds disruptive climate activists — as organizers are gearing up for protests in New York City in September. Organizers are planning a “March to End Fossil Fuels” on Sept. 17 ahead of a U.N. climate summit in New York on Sept. 20, as well as a series of actions targeting people in power.
Strong, urging other donors to support those activists, pointed to this summer’s extreme weather events and cautioned that the window for climate action is closing.
“For the next brief amount of time, it’s not too late. So there is still time for us to take action and do something,” he said.
As a father of three young daughters, Strong said, “I look at them and I imagine the future that they’re going to inherit as a result of our inaction and complacency, and I feel a sort of sickening feeling and a sense of moral imperative to do anything I possibly can.”
The United States is “still the largest producer of oil and gas in the world, and we are expanding currently our fossil fuel infrastructure,” Strong said. “Our president has not declared a climate emergency.”
And during the Republican presidential debate earlier this week, “we all heard … that climate change is apparently a hoax,” Strong said.
“So all eyes are on New York,” he said. “I plan to be there in September, and I hope that you guys on this call can be there as well and can help support these incredible activists, financially — in any way that you can,” Strong said.
Strong, who was previously listed as a funder in the Climate Emergency Fund’s 2022 annual report, made another pledge of an “undisclosed amount,” the organization’s Executive Director Margaret Klein Salamon said during Thursday’s call.
‘Turning point for the U.S. climate movement’
Organizers are aiming to have 50,000 participants in the climate march on Sept. 17 in New York, said Russell Gray, program officer at the Climate Emergency Fund. Prior to the march, organizers are planning to bring people from all over the country to New York from Sept. 12 to 15 to participate in trainings and “small, disruptive actions targeting people in power,” Gray said.
On Sept. 18, organizers are planning “a mass direct action that will galvanize people,” Gray said.
“We want to see hundreds of people taking direct action, many of whom for the first time putting everything on the line and treating the climate crisis like the emergency that it is,” Gray said. “We believe that that type of action has the potential to break through the U.S. media and inspire thousands or even tens of thousands of new people to join the movement.”
The long-term goal, Gray said, is to “establish a nationwide network for disruptive climate activism.”
Alice Hu, an organizer with New York Communities for Change, said conditions “are ripe for a breakthrough” for climate activism.
“It has been a summer of deadly and just devastating wildfires, record-breaking temperatures,” and floods, Hu said. “Appetite for climate activism is at an all-time high in a way that I’ve never experienced.”
Hu said she hopes the mobilization in New York becomes “a turning point for the U.S. climate movement.” Right now there are “numerous pockets of brave activism,” she said, urging a “longer-term, durable national network of smart, escalated disruption all over the country.”
Disruptive climate protesters have gotten attention in the United States and abroad in recent months for actions including storming onto the court at Wimbledon, throwing paint and soup at works of art, and halting traffic to draw attention to their cause.
The approach has critics on the left who argue that disruptive climate activists would be better served by focusing on emitters rather than on Democrats who champion climate policies. And detractors argue that their tactics could alienate the public rather than win its support.
Climate Defiance, one of the groups funded by the Climate Emergency Fund, has made waves in Washington for targeting Biden administration officials and disrupting events, including the Congressional Women’s Softball Game.
“Our theory of change is that direct action is the fastest, most efficient, most cost-effective, best way to get from the world we have now to the world that we want to see,” Climate Defiance founder Michael Greenberg said on Thursday’s call.
Direct action, Greenberg said, “telegraphs the message that we are in a literal fucking emergency. If you’re just collecting petitions, it makes climate change seem like yet another issue.”
Greenberg and other activists were in Jackson Hole, Wyo., on Thursday to protest at the annual economic conference hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City featuring Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell.
“There’s a lot that the Fed could do to address climate change,” Greenberg said Friday morning in an interview. One of the group’s activists was arrested Thursday, Greenberg added.