It is now more than known : the movement that Greta Thunberg launched in August 2018 by sitting in front of the Swedish Parliament is spreading day by day, embracing already the youth and calling for every age, every social background, everyone. On 20th of September, the young Swedish girl was in New York to demonstrate and speak in the context of the UN summit, called by the secretary general, António Guterres, to inject urgency into government action to restrict the rise in global temperatures to 1.5C, as agreed under the 2015 Paris agreement. But this acclaimed action was far from being the only one set to counteract inaction in matter of ecology and to try awaken consciousness. All around the world, from the least economically developed countries to the giants of world trade, the youth gets organized, and gets up for the climate.
But how are these strikes happening all over the world? What are the key concepts uniting the walkers? How are the governments behaving towards this trend?
On the website of globalclimatestrike.net, they report the map of strikes happening: I invite all of you to note how much it is geographically extended. The main date was the one of 20th of September, the day when Greta Thunberg herself demonstrated in New York, followed by tons of capitals and big cities around the world. But let’s notice that the movement is nearly never-ending: Italy chose for example to organize strikes in the main cities on 27th, and in Rome was organized all along the week activities, speeches and meeting about climate change and ecology. In the morning of this 27th, in Rome, people gathered early in Piazza della Repubblica, near one of the major station of the capital. The component of the march was varied: activists and members and associations, unions, families, journalists, and above all young people, from middle school to University, organized in groups separated by banners throughout the cortege. This young crowd may be explained by the fact that the italian minister of education, Lorenzo Fioramonti, insisted on facilitating student access to the event by not penalizing them for their absence. A position not ultimately so common, as noted by the Australian minister of Finance, reminding that students must go to school, not on strikes. As always, students have in that case a lot to retort: Danielle Porepilliasana, a Sydney high school student said: “World leaders from everywhere are telling us that students need to be at school doing work. I’d like to see them at their parliaments doing their jobs for once.”
The Friday for Future strike in Rome [photo by Erica Ruggieri]
In Europe, it is to note that the most important strikes in terms of quantity were happening in Germany, Austria and Ireland, with 1.4 millions of people participating in Germany. In Berlin, as the Guardian reported, the day was typically accompanied by techno in the Potsdamer Platz, with the motto shouted all over the streets “No Future, No Dancefloor”. The strikers blocked the strategic points of the city, efficient and motivated: as a respone, the Chancellor Angela Merkel announced a “€50bn package of new measures to curb carbon emissions and review progress towards reaching its climate goals by 2030”. In Brussels one banner was poetically claiming: “Respect existence or Expect resistance!”
In Asia, the press reported (among others) around 13 indian cities striking, as well as 12 Indonesian cities. the light is put on China, the world’s biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions, where paradoxically the protests were forbidden. However, students are aware of their key role in the awakening of consciousness, and the China Youth Climate Action Network is undertaking initiatives in that sense, with or without the support of the state.
In Africa, strikes are happening nearly every day after 20th of September, as for Niger, Nigeria, Kenya in 27 and 28th September. In Nairobi, we could have observed children dressed in recycled materials such as plastic bottles or plastic bags to catch the eye of the government, as well as the public opinion about the problem of plastic waste, waste management and about a consumption that has become incompatible with any respect of the environment. Waste management is indeed a major health and environmental issue in Africa: In Lagos, tons of waste are sent by the UE to simply get rid of it, dripping into the soils and becoming toxic, as well for the environment as for the population.
As much diversity as unity can be extract from this Friday for future modest and non-exhaustive world tour. The feeling of solidarity, community, joins the far bigger responsibility for a transcendant cause: the environment, and our legacy, natural and logical charge that the Earth is. This convergence of the common interest gives a beautiful global involvement, in the features of the national peculiarities, constraints and victories, even if a big part of the population still need to be awakened. Then sweet dreams, sleep while you still can!
Global Governance student of Tor Vergata