10 Things You Need to Know About the Global Climate Strike
As grassroots climate change activism continues to take the world by storm, here are some of the more important things you need to know about the Global Climate Strike.
As climate change continues to wreak havoc on our ecosystem, millions across the world are taking action and calling for change in order to preserve our environment. The Global Climate Strike, the massive climate change campaign that united millions across the world to amplify the voices of young activists seeking environmental reform, is a perfect example of this. Because of its historic importance as a massively successful initiative, here is everything you need to know about the Global Climate Strike.
It really involved more than one strike.
Students walked out of their classes on Friday, September 20, to bring attention to the issue of climate change. Public areas were swarmed with students skipping class, carrying signs, and loudly chanting to express their fears in regards to the effects of climate change, calling upon politicians to take the matter seriously and work towards sustainable solutions. This initial protest was not the end of the campaign, as protestors were invited to walk out again on Friday, September 27. The success of the first strike led to high anticipation for the subsequent protest, as the tenacity of the protestors was underscored by their dedication to making their platform as visible as possible. The second strike operated under the organized efforts of Earth Strike, an international, grassroots campaign encouraging all members of the public to participate in organized protests demanding environmental justice.
The strike looked different across the world.
While united under the common goal of addressing climate change, localized strikes were also encouraged to address pertinent issues that are affecting protestors' particular communities. Some, for example, protested pipeline development plans in their area, while others called out local politicians and corporations that are contributing to the devastating effects of global warming. The individualization of these efforts was an important feature of the Global Climate Strike because it was designed to empower individuals across the world to confront the institutions, people, and policies that are impacting our environment negatively.
It was primarily organized by young people.
Young people in over 150 countries rallied together to see the strike come to fruition, as thousands of protests were scheduled across the world in solidarity with the message that the Global Climate strike put forward. The strike called for young people to walk out of schools to stage protests, drawing attention to the devastating effects that our global consumption of fossil fuels produces and advocating for a universal transition to sustainable resources in order to minimize our environmental impact. The focus on younger people underscores the universality of the issue; everyone, even the youngest of people, is facing a grim future because of our negligence to our own environmental impact, and now, young people are making their voices heard so that their concerns are taken seriously.
Activist Greta Thunberg helped orchestrate the movement.
Although only 16 years old, Greta Thunberg has quite a list of accomplishments under her belt as a young activist fighting to address the issue of global warming. Hailing from Sweden, the teen went viral last year after protesting outside of the Swedish parliament by herself, drawing attention not only because of her young age, but also because of the powerful message she continues to share. Her efforts in helping organize the Global Climate Strike have only intensified her growing fame as an outspoken environmental activist.
Thunberg has said that she was inspired by the March for Our Lives Protests that took place in 2018, as these protests also heavily relied on the efforts of young people to take political action into their own hands. The fact that the Global Climate Strike is largely coordinated by younger people is no coincidence, not only because climate change as a political issue bears a direct impact on younger generations as they look to the future, but also because activists like Thunberg are proving that young adults can and should make their voices heard.
The timing was intentional.
The plan to execute two strikes over the course of a week in September was an intentional one, as the timing of these strikes was meant to respond to a major political moment regarding environmental policy. The strikes were planned for this particular week-long period in order to coincide with the UN Emergency Climate Summit in New York, which took place on the 23rd. The first strike took place only three days before the summit and wanted to bring attention to the young voices calling for institutional reform in order to address the issue at hand. Greta Thunberg subsequently opened the summit by railing on world leaders, who she accused of failing to do their part tackling the effects of the current climate crisis we're facing.
It wasn’t just for students.
The strike was by no means exclusionary in its employment of young people to organize the efforts; protestors of any age were welcomed to stand in solidarity against the ravages of global warming. Adults were asked specifically to seek out youth-led initiatives as a show of support to the dedicated effort so many young people put into organizing protests around the world, but the Global Climate Strike stressed that climate change is an intergenerational issue. As such, participation from protestors of all ages was encouraged in order to demonstrate the urgency of the issue and to illustrate the solidarity between millions of people across the world who are concerned about our lack of effort in addressing climate change.
Huge businesses did their part as well.
Major companies such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook saw employees walk out in support of the youth-led initiative. Around 2,500 business pledged support not only by closing for the day, but also by transforming into poster-making stations for anyone interested in participating. Around 6,000 websites pledged to participate by partaking in a digital strike, which directed users to information about the climate strike movement and featured green graphics in social media feeds to draw awareness. Major sites such as Tumblr and Wordpress sported green banners in solidarity with the movement, and some businesses even chose to let their homepages direct users to the Climate Strike’s website. Corporate support was important insofar as it called attention to the fact that many corporations are directly contributing to the impact of global warming, and institutional support and reform will be needed moving forward.
It was built off of a pre-existing campaign.
The Friday dates for both large-scale strikes not only bookended the emergency climate summit; they also built upon an existing movement that encourages young people to walk out of their schools to advocate for environmental policy reform. The Fridays for Future campaign has already orchestrated many walkouts for students to participate in every Friday of the year. This movement was started by Greta Thunberg, and because she has played a large role in organizing the Global Climate Strike, it’s not surprising that the two campaigns are converging to get the message across. Where the Global Climate Strike differs from the Fridays for Future movement is in its scale; the Global Climate Strike involves more than just students, and while young people were the ones leading the charge, the Global Climate strike saw people from all walks of life participating to call for action.
One of the largest protests took place in New York City.
New York City had one of the largest turnouts of the strike, as more than 60,000 people packed the streets with homemade posters and clever chants demanding action. And what’s more, New York City officials announced that any student with parental consent to take part in the strike would receive excused absences, thereby enabling students in New York to participate without fear of punishment. The high turnout was likely aided by the fact that the UN Climate Summit was taking place in New York City, prompting thousands of individuals to take to the streets in order to directly voice concerns before this important meeting.
The fight isn’t over.
While the Global Climate Strike was incredibly successful in creating a global spectacle that allowed young people to voice their concerns about climate change, their efforts have not ended with the close of the protest. Young activists like Greta Thunberg are continuing to challenge world leaders and call for action to be taken, and protests continue across the world as people of all ages become more vocal about the need to address climate change. The Fridays for Future campaign continues on, and grassroots organizations encourage people to continue supporting and attending events that bring attention to environmental issues.
The Global Climate Strike has proved to be a historic movement in environmental activism, and the inspiring students who led the charge are continuing to make their voices heard in order to advocate for their own futures. While we still have a long road ahead of us, campaigns such as the Global Climate Strike are garnering massive amounts of attention to the issue and reminding people across the world of the urgency with which we need to act. The things you need to know about the Global Climate Strike prove that not only is the message beginning heard loud and clear across the world, but that this movement will go down in history as a powerful moment of activism that fought for the future of our planet.