It’s Giving... Greta: Gen Z Climate Activists Who Are Steering the Future (Exclusive)

You know Greta Thunberg, but do you know these other young climate activists leading the fight?

Eva Hagan - Author

Apr. 25 2024, Published 7:00 a.m. ET

A collage of Climate Activists with the words "It's Giving....Earth Day."
Source: Green Lovers Composite: genesisbutler_/Instagram, Getty Images, birdgirluk/Instagram

Knowing Greta Thunberg, this probably won't surprise you, but some of the world's best climate activists haven't even graduated high school yet. As the generation that will face the brunt of global warming, Gen Z has taken the lead in rallying for action in the climate crisis.

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Climate change looks different based on where you live and the resources you have access to, which is why having young climate activists advocating for change in their communities — and across the planet — is so important. Green Lovers spoke exclusively with Genesis Butler, Advika Agarwal, Dr. Mya-Rose Craig, Nyombi Morris, Mitzi Jonelle Tan, and Conor Stayton on what being a climate activist means to them.

Read on for what Green Lovers heard from these Gen Z environmentalists on why they are climate activists.

Greta Thunberg and other young climate activists protesting while holding up signs.
Source: Getty Images

Genesis Butler (she/her)

At just 17 years old, Genesis Butler has been fighting for environmental and animal rights for nearly a decade. When she was 10, she gave a TED Talk about the environmental impact of consuming animals. Since then, she created Genesis for Animals, a nonprofit that collects money to stop animal agriculture; she also works with Youth Climate Save, an organization that promotes confronting the connection between animal farming when working towards climate reform, per Vox.

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When asked why she is a climate activist, Butler tells Green Lovers exclusively: "I started as an animal rights activist when I was 6 years old, and when I was 10, I learned about animal agriculture and how it is a leading cause of climate change. As a climate activist, I feel it's important to make bold moves because the climate crisis is only getting worse."

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Advika Agarwal (she/her)

Advika Agarwal headshot
Source: Courtesy of Advika Agarwal

As a high school senior, Advika Agarwal co-founded Compostology, an EPA-recognized nonprofit made to increase compost programs across schools in Montgomery County, Maryland. Additionally, Rotary International selected Agarwal to participate in COP28, the UN's 2023 climate conference.

When it comes to her climate activism, Agarwal tells Green Lovers exclusively: “I am a climate activist because I’ve seen the far-reaching change that local, youth-led ideas can spark. It concerns me that people begin to care about climate change only when it increasingly threatens humans – we need to care for all parts of Earth, not just ourselves, and spearheading K-12 education and action helps change that mindset.”

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Dr. Mya-Rose Craig (she/her)

Dr. Mya-Rose Craig, 21, started a birding blog when she was 11 years old called Birdgirl. She has since given a TEDx talk, won awards such as the Royal Bath and West Show Environmental Youth Awards, interviewed Dr. Jane Goodall, received an honorary Doctorate of Science from Bristol University, and spoke at COP26 on a panel with Greta Thunberg, Emma Watson, and Malala Yousafzai. However, this list doesn't even begin to cover Dr. Craig's full story, per Birdgirl.

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When asked why she is a climate activist, Dr. Craig writes to Green Lovers: "I don’t think I had any choice, but to be a climate activist."

Though Dr. Craig lives in Somerset, England, she tells us that her family previously lived by the Bangladesh-India border, where climate change has drastically affected the way of life, thanks to "unseasonal rain in the spring causing the rice crops to be swept away, and huge flooding in the summer submerging homes and destroying them."

"Bangladesh will be impacted more than any other country due to the size of the population the impact on them," Dr. Craig says. "So, I don’t think I have any choice but to speak up for all those living in Bangladesh, fighting for global climate justice and a just transition."

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Nyombi Morris (he/him)

Nyombi Morris is a Ugandan environmental activist who has seen the effects of climate change firsthand, after flooding displaced him and his family. He founded the nonprofit Earth Volunteers, an organization that works to empower and mobilize youth to take meaningful action for the planet. Besides this, he is also a CNN Environmentalist of Tomorrow, as well as a United Nations ​​Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) Ambassador, per World Urban Forum.

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When it comes to his climate activism, Morris tells Green Lovers: "I am a climate activist because I believe in scientific research on climate change and am sure through my small capacity I can use it to make a difference in my homeland by engaging in climate action voluntary activities. Since 85 percent of this crisis we are witnessing today was caused and is still fueled by us."

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Mitzi Jonelle Tan (she/they)

Mitzi Jonelle Tan works full-time as a climate justice activist in Metro Manila, Philippines, and is known for co-founding Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines (YACAP). As a young climate leader living in a country particularly vulnerable to climate disasters, Tan’s activism has been a force in uplifting other young activists, and communicating the urgency in finding solutions, per

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When asked why they are a climate activist, Tan tells Green Lovers: “To fight for climate justice is to simultaneously bring down all injustices and oppression that make people more vulnerable to climate impacts, while building and recreating a better world where people are safe and no one is left behind. I am a climate justice activist because everything I love and will ever love is on this planet. I am a climate justice activist because I see the wonders of life and community, and I want to live in a world where we all feel safe.”

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Conor Stayton (he/him)

Conor Stayton, aka @cowboyconor on TikTok (where he has more than half a million followers), is known for his videos about climate justice and politics — which range from serious rants to comedic skits. Stayton serves as the Head of Content Strategy and Production for the organization Gen-Z for Change, and he is a UC Berkeley student focusing on Conservation and Natural Resources.

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When asked about his climate activism, Stayton writes to Green Lovers: "My commitment to climate activism is fueled by a sincere interest in protecting the health and equity of our society. To call the analysis of climate impacts interdisciplinary barely scratches the surface; a true climate activist advocates for economic equity and health equity, ensuring that progress means more than just reducing greenhouse gas emissions — it's about lifting up those who have been historically marginalized and disproportionately affected."

This article is part of Green Lovers’ 2024 Earth Day programming, It's Giving... Earth Day: A series about the people and organizations who are “giving” Earth Day 24/7. We hope these stories inspire you to embody the spirit of Earth Day all year round.

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