More than 1.4 million young activists around the world walked out of class on Friday to protest against climate change, as the school strike climate movement continues to gain momentum.
Climate strikes are taking place in more than 1,400 cities across the globe, as young people demand politicians and business leaders do more to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Despite repeated warnings from scientists, last year atmospheric CO2 emissions hit a record of 415ppm. The UN-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned at the end of last year that greenhouse gasses will need to be slashed over the next 12 years to limit warming to 1.5C in order to stabilise the climate and avert the risk of runaway warming where we will not be able to reverse climate change.
The effects of climate change are getting more and more visible, sea levels have already risen by 20CM since 1900, heatwaves and droughts are more common, and the Arctic and Antarctic ice caps are melting much faster than previously thought.
Huge Global Protests Inspired by a 16-Year Old
Many of the teenagers and students taking part were initially inspired by the Swedish 16-year old Greta Thunberg who began the climate protest by going on strike by herself outside the Swedish parliament at the age of just 15.
Since then the Friday’s for Future school strike movement has grown rapidly, with large, organised networks connected across countries by social media.
The first activists to launch a protest were in Australia and New Zealand which are nine and 11 hours ahead of GMT respectively. Australia has seen a number of droughts recently and last year had its hottest summer on record, which saw many animals, including bats, die from the heat.
“I’m worried about all the weather disasters. Every time we have a huge bushfire here another animal might go extinct,” Nina Pasqualini, a 13-year-old at a rally in Melbourne, led by the group Extinction Rebellion, told Reuters.
“The government isn’t doing as much as it should. It’s just scary for younger generations,” she added, holding up a placard trying to stop a proposed new coal mine in Australia.
In Frankfurt, in Germany school, strikers marched on the headquarters of the European Central Bank and demanded it stops providing finance to the fossil fuels industry.
In India, Bhavreen Malhotra Kandhari, a school pupil taking part in strikes said: “We have learned that if we don’t start acting for our future, nobody else will make the first move. But this is not just up to us.”
In the UK, more than 100 school strike climate demonstrations have been planned and organisers say they are focussing on the need to reform the education system to better address the climate and ecological crisis.
An Invitation to Older Generations
In an open letter published in Germany’s Suddeutsche Seitung newspaper, Thunberg, and 22-year-old German climate activist Luisa Neubauer called on older generations to join the climate action in a big global protest planned for September.
“It’s not just up to us. We feel a lot of adults haven’t quite understood that we young people won’t hold off the climate crisis ourselves. But this is not a single generation job. Its humanity’s job.” They wrote.
The UK Student Climate Network also wrote an open letter to the UK’s trade union movement, asking them to get behind a green new deal and support the climate strikes.