On the 20th September, a global climate strike is taking place in solidarity with the youth climate activists. The strike is scheduled three days prior to the UN climate summit and is intended to deliver a clear and urgent message to our politicians from millions of people around the world about the need for immediate action to tackle climate change.
It’s expected to be one of the largest climate mobilisations we’ve seen, with as many people as possible being encouraged to take part. Greta Thunberg along with other youth activists, wrote a letter asking adults from all sectors of society to join them to amplify the message to world leaders. One of Germany’s largest labour unions has called on their two million members to support the strike and others are considering joining.
I have immense admiration for what Greta has achieved and the profound courage she has shown. I had the brief opportunity to meet Greta in 2018, and thanked her for raising awareness about climate change. It left me feeling hollow and guilty; a 27 year old thanking a teenager for doing something that adults have failed to do. Why has the burden for the most pressing issue of our time fallen on children to take up? Why have we abandoned our responsibility to care for younger generations?
Instead of supporting Greta, many adults have instead spread rumours and targeted their hate at her. Yet her bravery has seen her persevere despite all the vitriol. She is currently acting as a role model by travelling to the US for the Climate Action Summit, followed by the UN climate conference in Santiago, on a yacht powered by renewable energy as an alternative to a carbon-emitting flight.
The climate crisis is one that we’ve known about since 1988 when Dr James Hansen gave his landmark Senate testimony to the US Congress, but which consecutive governments have failed to deal with. Our parliament took the first step of declaring an “environment and climate change emergency” earlier this year, but failed to back this up with action. The longer we delay action, the worse the emergency becomes.
In July, Greenland experienced a widespread meltwater event on a scale that wasn’t predicted to happen until 2070. The Arctic has seen wildfires across Scandinavia, Siberia, Greenland and Alaska, with estimates suggesting that more carbon was released from these fires in the month of June than a country like Sweden emits in an entire year. David Attenborough has warned that, “If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.”
Given the closing window of opportunity for largescale action to prevent runaway warming, it’s essential that our governments act rapidly. That’s why I intend to stand with Greta and all the others striking to protect our climate on September 20th.
Children are being forced to take to the streets to protect their futures. We’re unfazed by that – hardly a ringing endorsement for our current collective mentality. This intergenerational injustice can’t continue and adults must step up. We knowingly or otherwise played a role in creating the problem and now we must fix it.
We have the knowledge and resources to tackle climate change – all that we lack is political action. The school climate strikers have built the momentum and carried us this far, but now we need more from our politicians. Joining the global climate strike on the 20th September is the first step on this path.
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