Global Climate Strikes Are Largest in History

Rituraj Phukan

Yesterday was an extraordinary day! There were at least 5225 events in 156 countries, and on all 7 continents. Adults responded to the call of the youth like there was no tomorrow with millions of protesters on the streets to demand action on climate change.

As I write this, a video captioned ‘beyond belief’ was tweeted from atop a high-rise showing the size of the crowd at Foley Square, New York city. This unprecedented mobilization of people across the world can only be termed as the mother of all strikes and arguably, the largest climate protest in history.

These climate strikes are happening ahead of the Climate Action Summit convened by the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres to boost ambition and accelerate actions to implement the Paris Agreementon 23 September at New York. Global leaders from government, business and civil society will bring fresh ideas and plans to address the global climate and ecological crisis. It is hoped that the climate strikes will spark the required urgency for systemic transformation.

The Youth Climate Summit — the first UN climate summit for young people — that is being held alongside the main event will provide a platform for young leaders to showcase their solutions and meaningfully engage with decision-makers. The Youth Climate Summit will feature a full-day programme bringing together young activists, including teenager Greta Thunberg, and innovators, entrepreneurs, and change-makers who are committed to addressing the global climate emergency.

It has been just over a year since Greta Thunbergsat down in front of the Riksdag, the Swedish parliament at Stockholm, and demanded that Sweden reduce carbon emissions in line with the Paris agreement. She was alone back then, but today she has emerged as the iconic face of the youth climate movement with millions of followers on every continent.

The climate crisis is an emergency and school climate strikers have been leaving their classrooms every Friday. Now they hope that everyone else will join them in action.Climate strikes were started by school students organizing through the FridaysForFuture platform. This Global Climate Strike mobilisation is a joint response by a broad coalition of groups, NGOs, unions and social movements across the world to young people’s call to action for September.

These climate strikes won’t solve the climate crisis alone. But, our ‘house is on fire’ and people everywhere are at risk with millions already affected by record droughts, floods, heat waves and extreme weather, as well as rapid biodiversity loss across terrestrial and marine habitats. What these climate strikes have done is to demonstrate that people are no longer willing to continue with business as usual. The urgency of the climate crisis requires a new approach and a just response centred on human rights, equity, and justice.

-Rituraj Phukan, Mentor & District Manager, The Climate Reality Project.

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