In 2019, communities united around the world for School Strikes 4 Climate for one central cause: climate change. In recent decades, climate change has consistently become a more pressing issue. Scientific research has proved that global warming is taking its toll on our earth and the younger generations are the ones who will bear the brunt of its consequences. As a result, throughout 2019, inspired by climate activist Greta Thunberg, millions of students (both high school and university) marched in protests in cities from Sydney to New York to Manila to Dhaka. Despite being in different locations, they all were marching for the same objective – to pressure politicians to take action against climate change.
Climate change has been a serious issue particularly in the last few decades as its effects have been made known to the world. Natural disasters like raging fires are caused by rising temperatures and dry weather – all effects of climate change. Ice is already melting at a much faster rate and destroying habitats for some creatures. Pollution is taking its toll on bodies of water and contaminating them. What makes this situation even worse is the fact that climate change has been partially caused by human beings. Just a handful of companies are responsible for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions, which are harmful to the environment. There have been attempts by international organizations to bind governments to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. With the first Kyoto Protocol, it was largely unsuccessful. This was followed by the Paris Climate Accords, enacted five years ago, but countries are currently not reaching their goals. As such, with climate change escalating at an alarming rate, young people have taken the matter into their own hands.
In 2019, School Strikes 4 Climate emerged as an international movement in 2019 and grew over the course of the year to 4500 strikes across 150 countries, with its peak on September 20th and 27th. The aim of this movement is to demand action from governments to take action against climate change and for the fossil fuel industry to switch to renewable energy. Prior to this, Greta Thunberg vowed to spend her Fridays protesting against climate change. Her act gained international media attention and other students passionate about the environment followed suit. By 2019, the movement had spread and there were international climate strikes. On the last two Fridays of September, during Global Week of Climate Action, around 4 million students of all kinds took part in demonstrations. They used their creativity to come up with eye-catching slogans that would raise awareness of the issue. The movement became a trending topic on social media, demonstrating the youth’s passion for their cause. The emotive message that started with Greta’s efforts resonated with other young people, prompting them to take action however they could.
There were mixed reactions from adults in positions of authority. The fact that people were skipping out on school for demonstrations was particularly alarming for many. Some politicians were supportive and recognized the youth’s efforts and dedication. Meanwhile, others claimed the protests were largely ineffective, implying that they had not changed their stance on climate action. However, parents and even public figures were pleased to see the youth take a stance about an issue they were passionate about and it clearly showed their initiative. Mass protests have immense power in enacting change, with many laws coming into play because of demonstrations. In many cases, governments only change laws when there is pressure from citizens. School Strike 4 Climate has at least had an effect on showing the world how the youth want their respective government’s stance to change on climate change and take action to tackle this worsening issue.
As climate change continues to create even more problems for governments and people alike, there will have to be initiatives taken by everyone to curb it. School Strikes 4 Climate was just one initiative. As individuals, we also have a role to play in saving our planet from its eventual demise. It can be as simple as choosing an eco-friendlier mode of transportation, switching out plastics with something more sustainable, or no longer supporting fast fashion brands. Any kind of progress is still progress at the end of the day.