In 2018, seeing traditional political institutions’ failure to take bold climate action, Ilana Cohen co-founded the New York City chapter of the national youth climate justice coalition called Zero Hour and organized one of the nation’s first Youth Climate March. Shortly after, as a first-year student at Harvard University, she helped relaunch the Fossil Fuel Divest Harvard campaign, which secured a historic victory last fall when the university pledged to divest its $53 billion endowment from the fossil fuel industry.
Ilana, 21, has since co-founded Fossil Free Research, an international grassroots campaign uniting students, academics, and experts against the toxic influence of Big Oil money on climate change research. The campaign aims to accelerate a just energy transition by protecting the integrity and academic freedom of researchers as their work ultimately influences the climate discourse and policy. Already, Fossil Free Research has published an open letter signed by more than 740 academics endorsing its call, staged an international direct action to hold major universities accountable, and formed a coalition to coordinate efforts across college campuses.