On Friday, September 20 and 27, millions of people around the world are expected to set aside their work and take to the streets to demand global action on climate change. What started as students leaving their classrooms on Fridays to strike against climate change has transformed into the biggest mobilization of climate strikers in the world.
In solidarity with young people’s call for action, NGOs, unions, and social movements have joined them. Together they have become a broad coalition to protest the status quo regarding climate change. This time, students, unions, and adults from over 150 countries will all engage in their own climate strikes.
“Everyone is needed to disrupt business as usual,” the Global Climate Strike website states, as they encourage all types of people “from sports stars, actors and teachers to food industry workers, psychologists, delivery drivers” to take part in demanding climate justice for all.
The organizers are aware of the consequences people might face being absent from work, however, they also encourage all kinds of activism at work. These vary from holding a small event at work in solidarity with the strikers and posting about it on social media, to wearing a badge or armband. The ultimate goal of the strikes is to urge politicians to come up with solutions to the current crisis.
Global Climate Strike has movements beyond the two days of striking. The purpose of the Fridays for Future strikes is to, “stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice.” This push for a fair and swift transition to 100 percent renewable energy aims to mitigate the damage that climate change will cause if not taken care of now.
According to NBC News, young women are taking a leading role in climate advocacy. At a summit held in Lausanne, Switzerland, a small team of about two dozen young female activists, including Greta Thunberg, agreed upon a global plan of action to address climate change. It is designed to prevent the planet’s temperature from rising beyond an additional 2.7 degrees Celsius, while calling for governments to accept and utilize the best science available to stop the usage of gas, coal, and oil.
With the two dates in September set, climate strikers are counting on sustained action week after week as the United Nations General Assembly in New York City approaches. They claim this to be “only a beginning to the sustained mass mobilization that will be needed to pressure the world to take action.”
As of now, the strikers’ activism has already had a tremendous impact on society. NBC News reports that Anja Kollmuss, a scientist and policy analyst for the Stockholm Environment Institute, asserts the public has gone from perceiving global warming as a problem related to air quality to a complex scientific phenomenon resulting from human behavior. Moreover, in response to growing climate-related natural disasters and public outrage, governments, including Canada and Scotland, have declared climate emergencies in their countries.
To further strengthen the support for this new generation of environmentalists, September’s climate strikes plan to kickstart a stronger wave of action and renewed ambition all over the world. Instead of waiting longer and doing nothing, these people have decided to take ownership of the future that belongs to them, the people, and not fossil fuel companies.