Young people are not the only voices speaking out for urgent action on climate change. Across the globe, mothers who are deeply worried about their children’s future are rising up.

This Mother’s Day arrives on a wave of growing concern for climate change, including headlining reports from the United Nations that call for drastic, unprecedented action to avoid the worst impacts on people and planet.

But mothers are not shying away from the challenge. They are taking action because they know moms can be a powerful force for change — from tackling air pollution to protect their children’s health to everyday actions in their home to recycle and reduce food waste.

We spoke with five fierce moms, who share why they believe climate action is essential for their children’s future, what they’re doing about it, and what actions they want to see from world leaders this September at the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit.

Makeba Giles

Mother of two girls (17 and 25) and two boys (12 and 22) in Webster Groves, Missouri; Digital Content Producer for Faith Health and Home

As a mom, what concerns you the most about climate change?
Being a family with a long history of respiratory illnesses, a major impact of climate change that concerns me is how it can affect the respiratory health of my children and grandchildren. Three of my four children currently suffer from asthma and severe allergies, and we’ve even had a close relative to die from asthma. To think that there’s a possibility that my children and grandchildren could meet the same fate due to the unfavorable changes in our climate is extremely frightening to me.

How can moms be a powerful force for change?
As moms, raising awareness is our superpower. We can talk to the elected officials within our region about doing more to work towards making our climate conditions healthy and safe for generations to come. Additionally, we can use our voices on social media, and offline as well with our individual communities. Lastly, we can educate our children about climate change.

What is your message to other moms about raising their voices?
Don’t be afraid to use your voice to speak up for climate action. Remember that future generations are depending on you.

Jenny Harper Gow

Mother of three young children in Brockweir, Gloucestershire, England; Pediatric doctor and co-founder of Mothers Rise Up

Why is action on climate change essential for your children’s future?
Action is essential for all humans but children growing up today have done least to contribute to climate breakdown, so it’s immoral to leave them with the problems they have had no part in creating.

How can moms be a powerful force for change?
Mothers are united by the love of our children and a concern for their future. This brings us together regardless of race, religion, or postcode. By uniting, we are a huge collective force. As a society, we need to make big changes and have a different relationship with nature. Mothers can influence their children so that as adults they will make decisions based on sustainability — not profit.

What do you think world leaders should do about climate change?
World leaders need to act on the expert advice from scientists and treat climate change as the most important topic on the agenda. They have a unique opportunity to go down in history as the leaders who averted catastrophic climate breakdown and averting mass extinction of all current life on Earth as we know it.

Molly Rauch

Mother of three in Washington, D.C.; Public Health Policy Director for Moms Clean Air Force

Why is action on climate change essential for your children’s future?
Our health and well being are so very connected to our environment. Nature is our first mother, the source of the air, water, and food on which we all depend every minute of every day. Every child, every person, has the right to breathe clean air, to drink clean water, to have access to nutritious food and a safe place to play. Every child has the right to live in a world without harmful pollution. Our children’s health and future depend very concretely on the steps we take now to reduce climate pollution.

What actions are you taking in your life to help tackle the climate challenge?
In my work with Moms Clean Air Force, I direct the policy arm of a national organization of more than one million moms fighting air pollution and climate change. We elevate the voices of moms, educate lawmakers about these issues, and build political will for meaningful policy action to fight climate pollution.

In my personal life, I try to line-dry our laundry, avoid air conditioning when possible, and eat mostly vegetarian. That said, I feel strongly that climate change is an enormous problem with deeply entrenched special interests — the fossil fuel industry — and so individual actions are not enough. Civic engagement, voter registration, and political will are the touchstones for effective action.

What is your message to other moms about raising their voices for climate action?
As moms, we teach, nurture, cheerlead, collaborate, set boundaries, encourage, and strategize. And now we need to do all those things for one of the greatest challenges our children face: Climate change. It is precisely the skills we’ve honed as mothers that will lead us through this crisis, toward the solutions that we so need right now: Clean energy, clean air, clean jobs, and a safe future for all our children. Our voices are needed in this fight. Join us.

Emma Powell

Mother of an 11-year-old boy in London, England; Voice artist and co-founder of Mothers Rise Up

How are teaching your child about climate change?
I’m showing him the science and explaining how important it is that we tackle it. I don’t dramatize it, of course, as I don’t want to scare him witless! But it’s just part of the culture of our home and how we live. It’s important that we educate our children about this and prepare them.

How can moms be a powerful force for change?
We have a powerful vested interest in sorting this out. When your child is born you realize that you’ve never felt love like this before and that you would fight to the death to protect your child. That urge to defend is shocking in its ferocity, and I think this energy has to be wielded.

What is your message to other moms about raising their voices for climate action?
Find your voice, be authentic, and speak out. You may feel you don’t have the time or the energy but nothing else is more important. This is a rallying cry and a life-affirming choice.

Nicole Melancon

Mother of two in Minneapolis, Minnesota; Travel and Social Good Blogger

As a mom, what impacts concern you the most?
The recent UN report on biodiversity states that over 1 million species are at risk of extinction and that we must act now if we want to mitigate the dire mess we are in. I am concerned not only about the loss of species, but about the tragic, negative impacts that climate change is having on our planet and humanity as a whole. All of the work we have done to create amazing change with the SDGs is threatened. Every single SDG is at risk if we do not act now. The situation is urgent and will require a worldwide commitment by governments and individuals as a whole if we want to stop climate change.

How can moms be a powerful force for change?
Moms can spread the word and also teach their own children to fight as much as we can for our planet. I strongly believe and am hopeful that our children will be much better stewards of the environment than we are. They are much more aware of climate change and the negative impact of overconsumption, cutting down trees, and using single-use plastics. They are knowledgeable about recycling because they are growing up recycling themselves. This gives me a lot of hope for the future.

We can also share our own love and passion for nature with our kids. My kids know how much I love nature and being outside, and that I believe that protecting the magic and beauty of our planet is one of my most important jobs. This love and commitment to the planet can be passed down to our children, who will then be leaders themselves and create change.

What is your message to other moms about raising their voices?
Never give up the fight. We must ensure that we have a healthy planet for future generations.

To learn more about ways mothers can take action, check out Moms Clean Air Force and Mothers Rise Up

To learn about how you can take individual action to protect the planet, take part in the UN’s ActNow Campaign.