Students' Climate Strike Kicks Off Largest Global Climate Protest Ever

People at the Sydney Climate Strike. Picture courtesy of Matt Davis

Students across the world today have left their classrooms and taken to the streets to protest their governments’ inaction when it comes to the climate crisis, ahead of the United Nations Climate Action Summit kicking off in New York on September 23. Millions of children and adults, companies and corporations, are expected to take part in the protests around the world.

So far 300,000 people are protesting on the streets in Australia. Students in Thailand marched for two hours in Bangkok before staging a die-in at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. Protests have taken place in multiple cities in India, Japan, Indonesia, the Philippines, Myanmar, Singapore, and South Korea.

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Protests are also kicking off in Europe with multiple marches and events planned in capitals and major cities, like London, Paris, Berlin, and Madrid. This evening in New York, Swedish activist Greta Thunberg is expected to speak about the week of strikes, which will conclude next week with more events happening worldwide.

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The #WeekForFuture coincides with the UN summit, the goal of which is to accelerate the requirements of the Paris Agreement, improve air quality, and create climate-resilient health systems.

The demands of this global strike are both simple and ambitious: an end to the age of fossil fuels and climate justice for everyone. The first point underlines how crucial it is to end our reliance on fossil fuels and move onto green energy sources such as solar, wind, and nuclear, which are key to getting greenhouse emissions under control.

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The second goal is about the human cost of this crisis. Millions of people are already experiencing the devastating impact of the climate crisis. The Red Cross has released a report revealing that 108 million people are in need of humanitarian aid every year. The number will almost double over the next decade. A study published in the journal GeoHealth shows that in the US in 2012 (the year Hurricane Sandy hit) there were 917 deaths and 20,568 hospitalizations due to climate change-related events, at a cost of $10 billion. Given that the crisis is both worsening and accelerating, this data is very worrying.

The attention is on governments to treat this global crisis as the emergency that it is. For them to pass laws and policies that facilitate reductions of emissions at a citizen level, but more importantly that the militaries and large corporations that are mainly responsible for the emissions are taken to task on reducing CO2 dramatically. The Pentagon, for example, produces more CO2 emissions than several European nations, and a 2017 report found that just 100 corporations were responsible for 71 percent of all global greenhouse emissions. 

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It may be easy to dismiss the protests of one girl, but hopefully, it will a lot harder to drown out the voices of the world if it speaks as one.

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