The Youth Take Charge! World’s Largest Environmental Strike
In the event that global efforts to combat climate change finally come to fruition, one might expect that historians will point to Friday, March 15th, 2019 as a catalyst for such success. This day is significant in that it marks the beginning of the largest worldwide environmental action ever. On this day,
1 million of the world’s youth, in over 130 countries, came together in over 2,000 climate strike rallies around the world.
While it took thousands of youth organizers to stage this massive climate strike, it was 16 year old Greta Thunberg of Sweden who helped create the spark that would ignite this massive action. Every Friday since August of 2018, Thunberg has been on strike outside of Parliament, and has refused to stop until the Swedish Government meets the benchmarks set by the Paris Climate Accord. Thumberg has done a TEDx Talk, spoke in front of world leaders of UN COP24, and the Davos World Economic Forum and has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for her passion and dedication to fighting climate change.
Aside from the climate strike, there have been a variety of other youth-led actions centered on climate defense including: the Youth V Gov & Our Children’s Trust, Earth Guardians, Zero Hour, the Sunrise Movement, UK Youth Climate Coalition, and Youth V Apocalypse.
It’s clear that the global youth is currently the strongest voice holding corporations and government accountable for their duty to protect the planet, and by extension, its citizens.
Rallies, strikes, and protests are very inspirational for nearly all who attend them. In the moment, participants feel a sense of euphoria and momentum that is difficult to capture once one returns to their daily routines. Time and time again, we can observe as individual’s passion for climate activism slow to a halt and takes a back seat to the constant flood of new information coming from TV news, social media, etc. However, in the case of this spike in youth activism, these great strides to influence change don’t appear as though they will succumb to the same old distractions.
In the wake of the March 15th strike, Canada is already planning to stage another National Student Strike on May 3rd. Actions such as this are important as they ensure that the climate crisis continues to make its way into the headlines.
Only a month following Canada’s student strike, the Juliana V US climate trial will have its preliminary injunction case in Portland, Oregon. The preliminary injunction has major implications for the fossil fuel industry across the United States and would set a precedent for the world to follow. Rallies to coincide with the beginning of this case are already in their planning stages. This court case is connected to Our Children’s Trust and the #YouthVGov movement which has legal cases in many parts of the world.
Clearly, what happened on March 15th is not just something that briefly got people’s hopes up. While the mainstream media will move on from that incredible day and continue to give climate change very little coverage, we can see that folks everywhere, especially the youth, are keeping the spark burning. As Greta Thunberg said to leaders at the World Economic Forum
“I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.”