A GLOBAL YOUTH MOVEMENT ?
Millions of students went on strike from school on March 15 to pressure their governments to address seriously the problem of global warming. Photos from that day on CPNN show their demonstrations around the world: in the UK, Australia, Philippines, Sweden, Italy, Uganda, Belgium, USA, Canada, Portugal, Ukraine, Spain, Chile, Nigeria, France and Bangladesh.
The movement has been inspired by the actions of a girl in Sweden, Greta Thunberg, who sat last year by herself outside the Swedish parliament to demand that they take action. Since then Greta has spoken out in many venus, including the meeting of the world’s richest bankers and executives in Davos, Switzerland. Her words at Davos struck a chord, especially among young people around the world: “Act As If Our House Is on Fire. Because It Is.” She has even been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. If Thunberg won, the 16-year-old would be the youngest winner ever and the second after 2007 co-winners former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to be honored for work on climate change.
The mission statement of the American Youth Climate Strike is a clear exposition of their demands, “We, the youth of America, are striking because decades of inaction has left us with just 11 years to change the trajectory of the worst effects of climate change, according to the Oct 2018 UN IPCC Report. We are striking because our world leaders have yet to acknowledge, prioritize, or properly address our climate crisis. We are striking because marginalized communities across our nation —especially communities of color, disabled communities, and low- income communities— are already disproportionately impacted by climate change. We are striking because if the social order is disrupted by our refusal to attend school, then the system is forced to face the climate crisis and enact change. With our futures at stake, we call for radical legislative action to combat climate change and its countless detrimental effects on the American people.”
Here are a few of the colorful, hand-lettered placards at the youth march in New York City:
- There is no plan(et) B
- One people One planet
- I always wondered why somebody didn’t do something. Then I realized I was the somebody !
- Respect existence or expect resistance !
- Break the climate silence !
- Youth strikes harder when climate change strikes !
- Change is coming whether you like it or not !
The collective “Youth for the climate” was formed in Spain by groups of young people who joined as a collective last February and who are organized in assemblies. Eight weeks ago these young people decided that they had to strik along with young people in Europe and around the world. We link to a video of several of these activists who say, among other things that “No es la tierra de nuestros hijos sino nuestro proprio futuro . . . ” (We are concerned not only with the world for our children, but for our own future as well.)
UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres has praised the youth movement, saying that “hese schoolchildren have grasped something that seems to elude many of their elders”, he said, adding that “we are in a race for our lives, and we are losing. The window of opportunity is closing; we no longer have the luxury of time, and climate delay is almost as dangerous as climate denial.” The Secretary-General acknowledged that his older generation “has failed to respond properly to the dramatic challenge of climate change. This is deeply felt by young people. No wonder they are angry.”
Representing CPNN, I had the chance to go to the march and demonstration of school students in New York against climate change on Friday, March 15. There were a series of demonstrations ending up with a big enthusisastic crowd at the Museum of Natural History. The average age was under 20. I’d have to back to the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s to remember big demonstrations with majority youth. Are we seeing the dawn of a global youth movement ?
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