The girl with the signboardGreta, a young climate activist has sparked schools strikes globally against a changing climate
Tsewang Nuru Sherpa
The Paris agreement was thought to be a landmark agreement to help combat the changing climate. But it has been challenged by numerous questions regarding its implementation, the much-needed global collaboration as well as the agreement being meaningless should it fail to inspire countries to spring in to action. More than 195 countries have signed the Paris climate agreement that has a target of maintaining global temperatures from rising 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. But with only a few countries taking steps to slash greenhouse gas emissions, the goal is quickly becoming limited to paper.
But thanks to Greta Thunberg—a 16-year old climate activist, worldwide there have been school strikes against global warming. Schools students staged a solitary protest, confronting global leaders at the World Economic Forum (WEF), have now been a global movement that has inspired youths all over the world.
Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg started the solitary movement outside the Swedish Parliament with handmade signs that read: “skolstrejk för klimatet” (School strike for climate). She further said, climate change is here, it’s threatening the future, and the grown-ups in charge aren’t taking it seriously—so now I, Greta, will go on strike for the climate. Since then, her movement has resonated among youths around the world. On March 15, thousands climate activist participated in the #FridaysForFuture rally all over the world. These rallies, led by students were a call for action on climate action.
From Australia and New Zealand, to Poland and Colombia, thousands of students skipped school, striking for the climate change, collaboratively signposting their activism on cards, papers and with their powerful voices. The event was even embraced in developing nations like Nepal and the Philippines, one of the few countries in the world that have been acutely impacted by climate change. Altogether, 2000 protests took place in 125 countries The climate march that saw climate activism in different forms from marching through the streets to skipping classes, from stepping outside the school for a short time to raising loud voices, but all synced for the same purpose. In Kathmandu, more than 100 school children walked in rallies to urge the authorities to take actions on tackling climate change.
Climate change is undoubtedly rendered as the most critical environmental issues, with the younger generation expected to suffer from its detrimental effects in the future. The importance of creating awareness and engaging youth activities in the areas of preparedness, and risk reduction, adaptation, and mitigation can be proverbial change. The momentum on climate action is growing. Heading full speed to a catastrophe, people are now listening. There is also palpable energy and zeal to fight global warming and the #FridaysForFuture rally is a testament to it.
The rise of youth activists like Thunberg have definitely given hope to all the youths around the world, and have started a movement of their own. So far, many teens around the world have filed lawsuits, campaigned for cleaner energy, taken sustainability responsibilities and founded organisations solely dedicated to saving the planet from climate change. Their actions, pledges, and initiatives have ironically collided with bitter realities of climate inaction of governments.
António Guterres, secretary general of the United Nations said, “I know young people can and do change the world.
The more I see your commitments and activism, the more confident I am that we will win. Together, with your help and thanks to your efforts, we can and must beat this threat and create a cleaner, safer, greener world for everyone”. He is also optimistic about having youth activists like Thunberg and that they will soon be able to elect leaders who take climate change seriously.
What happens tomorrow is determined by what we do today. The fact that there is a global climate strike and that the youth are leading the strike clearly shows a positive outlook towards a better tomorrow. Youths have made the world realise that the while conferences and global summits to fight climate change keeps on taking place, every youths standing together with billions around the world embody a strong force of hope and possibility.
Sherpa is a recent Environmental Science graduate and a WWF Nepal Scholar