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Climate protesters at a rally.

Climate issues take center stage

Young climate protesters interrupt Haley, Trump rallies in New Hampshire.

By Zoe Bell

NASHUA, N.H. — Young climate protesters interrupted a series of rallies across New Hampshire last week as candidates prepared for the primaries, including three campaign events by former President Donald Trump. 

The protesters stood up and shouted during former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley’s Jan. 20 speech in Nashua, N.H. and Trump’s Jan. 22 speech in Laconia, N.H., calling the candidates “climate criminals” before being removed from the premises.

Adah Crandall, 17, is an organizer for the Sunrise Movement who traveled from Portland, Oregon, to protest at rallies in Iowa and New Hampshire throughout the past two weeks. 

“I joined the Sunrise Movement because, in the state of Oregon, my home is literally on fire from climate disasters,” Crandall said in an interview. “I walk outside my house in the summer, and I’m literally breathing the smoke of wildfires. And I believe that young people have the power to change the path of this country.”

Although Oregon saw an average number of wildfires in 2023, the . According to the Associated Press, the 2020 wildfires were among the worst natural disasters in the state’s history, forcing more than 500,000 people to evacuate their homes. She said she wants to see “ambitious, bold climate policy” from the U.S. government. 

“We’ve been out here confronting Republican presidential candidates about their ties to the fossil fuel industry because these people claim to represent Americans, they claim to represent working people, but at the same time, their campaigns are literally funded by the Koch brothers and by fossil fuels that are poisoning our communities,” she said.

Over the last two decades, fossil fuel billionaires Charles and the late David Koch have that oppose science and policy solutions. 

Crandall added that it was “terrifying” to stand up and speak in front of the hundreds of attendees at the Laconia rally, but she had courage knowing that she had the support of members of the Sunrise Movement.

“I know my values, and I know that I cannot morally stand to let this man lie to these people and to the public. But I know that my home is burning, my friends’ homes are flooding, this entire country and everyone in the world is going to be hurt by the climate crisis,” Crandall said. “I was shaking in there right before I stood up. But to me, it’s absolutely worth it because it’s my values, and it’s my future.”

, a network founded by the Kochs, Haley’s presidential run in November 2023, which will include a multimillion-dollar ad campaign launching this week.

On Jan. 20, young protesters stood up one by one during Haley’s rally to ask what she would do to combat climate change as President.

“You’re taking millions of dollars from the fossil fuel industry!” Crandall shouted before being escorted outside by security. “The climate crisis destroyed our homes. Will you look me in the eye? … You destroyed my generation’s future!”

Haley asked the crowd not to boo Crandall: “My husband and other military men and women sacrifice for us every day for her to be able to do that,” she said to cheers and applause before continuing her speech. Bruce Denner, an attendee, shouted, “Let her speak!” numerous times during the series of protests at the rally.

Nikki Haley speaks to the crowd on Jan. 20 in Nashua, New Hampshire, in preparation for the primary. (Albert Arron/91㽶Ƶ)

Near the end of the rally, Haley addressed the young protesters who had interrupted her speech and offered steps to remedy climate change.

And what I will tell you is we’re all worried about the environment, too. We all want clean air. We all want clean water. We all want a world that we can have our kids and our grandkids grow up. That’s not up for debate,” she told the crowd. “What we need to do is do it in a sensible way. First, call out India and China for the big polluters that they are. They are the ones that have to start cutting our emissions if we ever plan on doing something that’s really going to save the environment.”

Crandall spoke to the importance of young voters in the upcoming election year.

“Every candidate right now — Democrat or Republican — is vying for the youth vote,” she said. “And young people with Sunrise are here to say that regardless of which party you’re in if you want [Generation] Z to support you, you have to be willing to fight for us.”

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