If a week is a long time in politics, the past year has been an eternity for Jerome Foster. In the opening stanza of 2020, the 18-year-old was holding forlorn weekly protests outside the White House calling for action on the climate crisis. Now, he has been ushered into the seat of American power to help craft climate policy.
In a sign of the growing political clout of the youth climate movement that has blossomed around the world in recent years, Foster has been included among a group of advisers to Joe Biden who will inform the US president on issues related to environmental justice, where low-income communities and people of color face the greatest fallout from climate change and pollution.
“I didn’t expect this to happen so soon, it was like, ‘Wow, this is crazy,’” said Foster, who posted a tweet summing up the dramatic upgrade in his influence.
Foster added: “I’m the only person under 40 on the whole panel, so when I got there I was like, ‘Am I supposed to be here?’ But it was their intention to bring in the youth perspective on climate change. I was a bit startled at first but now I’m getting used to it.”
It’s a remarkable personal journey for the teenager, a student of computer science in New York City who in early 2019 started solo protests in front of a White House occupied by Donald Trump, a president who routinely mocked climate science and