Worldwide Climate Strike - Children swap education for activism

18 September 2019 12:23 am - 1     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


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This Friday, the 20th of September will see the latest instalment of the worldwide coordinated school strikes by children and teenagers to draw attention to their governments’ inaction on the risks of climate change.  

It all began a year ago when an unknown 15-year-old Swedish girl sat outside the Swedish parliament every Friday with a sign saying “Skolstrejk för klimatet (School Strike for Climate). Her goal? To let the government know she believed they weren’t doing enough to meet their Paris Agreement targets, and that time was running out to make the changes possible to give her generation a future.  That girl was Greta Thunberg.  

Miss Thunberg has since inspired groups such as ‘Fridays For Future’ to skip school to hold similar peaceful protests each Friday at government buildings. This group, in particular, has members from over 40 countries - from the UK to Uganda, India to Iraq. Australian based group ‘School Strike 4 Climate’ have thousands of members from every corner of the large country who are also swapping school for activism.   

There has already been one mass strike by students this year. On March 15, 2019, 1.6 million children of all ages took to the streets (with their parent’s permission) to demand climate justice.  

This Friday, it’s expected to be even bigger with children from an astounding 117 countries have registered to participate in climate strike events in their cities. But this time’s a little different, they are asking adults to strike alongside them in solidarity of their cause.  

A string of high profile companies such as Amazon, Microsoft and Google have publicly announced they are giving their employees the day off to attend the strikes in support of the youth. Many church groups, unions, schools and private companies have also expressed their solidarity with the striking children.  

Why the 20th of September?

To tie in with the United Nations Youth Climate Forum which is to be held on 21 September in New York, followed by the United Nations Climate Action Summit on the 23rd September.  
Shouldn’t kids stay in school?

Politicians around the world are urging that children should stay in school and leave the activism for adulthood. But with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report suggesting the world only has 12 years to make the necessary changes to prevent global temperatures rising beyond the point of no return, students such as Thunberg don’t see the point in getting a degree that could potentially be worthless.  “Why spend a lot of effort to become  educated, when our governments are not listening to the educated?” (Fridays for Future)  

It’s a hard statement to argue with, considering that surveys of peer-reviewed scientific literature, as well as the opinions of experts, consistently show a 97–98% consensus that humans are causing global warming (Consensus on consensus: a synthesis of consensus estimates on human-caused global warming). Yet despite the scientific consensus, many world leaders continue to deny the urgency, with some even labelling climate change a “hoax”.  

What is the goal?

To ask the world’s governments to declare a climate emergency and start making an urgent effort to de-carbonise the economy. They are suggesting a complete block on any new fossil fuel projects such as coal and gas, with a transition to 100% renewable energy by 2030. This includes the creation of transition programmes and jobs for all current fossil fuel workers and communities so no-one gets left behind.   

Is it making a difference?

In a recent interview with the Washington Post, Miss Thunburg was asked “Do you think people are responding to teenagers? Do you think that people are listening to you?” In which she calmly replied “I think that we have definitely made people open their eyes — at least some people. But we are not saying, “You need to listen to us.” We are saying, “You need to listen to the science and the scientists. That is, at least, what I want. We are trying to give the scientists a platform and speak on behalf of them”. 


In a world where children can’t vote, they can’t change government policies and they certainly can’t force the corporations that are cooking the planet to change their ways and all they have is their voice.  

So let’s let them speak. After all, it’s the youth that will be inheriting this world.   

If you wish to attend a Worldwide Climate Strike event on Friday, head over to their website to see peaceful events listed for both Colombo and Kandy.

  Comments - 1

  • Emm kay Friday, 20 September 2019 12:40 PM

    Can I get the name of the place of strike in Colombo?

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