Scores of young climate activists around the world are back out on the streets for the first worldwide youth climate strike since before the pandemic. On Friday Sept. 24, the Fridays for Future protests took place in over 1,400 locations globally, with young people raising their voices once again in a call for immediate action. 

Activist and pioneer of the Fridays for Future movement, Greta Thunberg, joined thousands of young citizens in Berlin, Germany, just two days before the country is set to hit the polls.

Now is a particularly crucial time to host a strike in Germany, as it is in the lead up to elections, and takes place a mere two months after heavy rains linked to global warming sparked flooding in the country and neighbouring countries in July that killed at least 180 people. 

“It has been a strange year and a half with the pandemic, but the climate crisis is even more urgent than it was before,” said 18-year-old Thunberg ahead of the protests. “We will go back on the streets now to show that we have not disappeared and that we are demanding climate action and climate justice.”

Other countries where protests were held include Uganda, the UK, Mexico, South Africa, Iceland, Canada, Argentina, Bangladesh, Turkey, and more, with most countries holding protests in several cities. 

The Fridays for Future protests haven’t been able to take place physically for over a year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with this marking the return of the global in-person protests. The worldwide strike was notably hosted just a few weeks ahead of the major COP26 climate summit, where world leaders will gather to make critical commitments in an effort to combat climate change.

The need to tackle the climate crisis has grown increasingly urgent with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, published in August, stating that climate change is intensifying and the world is far behind on the goal to not exceed a temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius — a global commitment as agreed upon in Paris in 2015. The United Nations also reported on Sept. 17 that current commitments from world leaders would actually lead to a 16% temperature increase in the next decade. 

Ahead of Friday’s protests, climate activists from around the world spoke up on the need for world leaders to take immediate responsibility. 

“The global north should be developing climate policies that have at their core climate justice and accountability to the most affected people and areas,” said Brazilian climate activist Valentina Ruas. “Instead, they continue to exploit vulnerable communities and recklessly extract fossil fuel, while bragging about their insignificant emission reduction plans.” 

“We have been speaking out,” said Ugandan activist Vanessa Nakate. “We’ve been doing everything we can to remind the leaders and demand from the leaders what rightfully belongs to us.”

She added: “But it’s also important this Friday to rise up again for the people and for the planet, because the climate crisis wasn’t put to rest during the pandemic.”

Some good news is that pledges to tackle the climate crisis have been made by world leaders and their governments over the last week alone. At the United Nations’ General Assembly earlier this week, United States President Joe Biden committed to increasing the country’s contribution to global climate financing, particularly for vulnerable nations, from ​​$5.7 billion to around $11 billion a year. China has also pledged to cease its financing of coal-fired power stations abroad — however it did not make the same commitment for local energy production. 

However much more needs to be done for the world to fend off the extreme impacts of climate change, with UN chief, António Guterres, alerting governments to take immediate action and stating that 2015’s Paris targets will “go up in smoke” if they do not.  

Addressing demonstrators in Germany on Friday, Thunberg said that the protests had to continue. 

"There's no going back now, we can still turn this around, people are ready for change, we want change, we demand change, and we are the change," she said. “We need to become all climate activists and we need to uproot the system.” 

You can join the Global Citizen Live campaign to defeat poverty and defend the planet by taking action here, and become part of a movement powered by citizens around the world who are taking action together with governments, corporations, and philanthropists to make change.


Défendre la planète

Fridays for Future: Young Climate Activists Around the World Take to the Streets

Par Khanyi Mlaba