For decades now, adult activists and adult environmentalists and adult scientists have been trying to move climate change to the top of the world agenda. But we have met with only limited success. The appetite for aggressive climate policy on the world stage has not even come close to addressing the growing gap between rising greenhouse gas emissions and even the modest emission-reduction targets of the Paris Agreement.
And for decades, adult world leaders and adult politicians have been kicking the climate can further and further down the road. The results of such inaction were predictable. We now have less that 12 years (actually 11 years and counting) to take measures that will keep the warming of our world at less than 1.5°C, the threshold that the IPCC has warned cannot be crossed without suffering hellish climate catastrophes.
But it has taken only six months for Greta Thunberg, a 16-year old Swedish student, to mobilize the world’s student population for a global climate strike that will elevate the climate problem to the crisis status that it is. Student climate strikers have issued an open letter ahead of a global day of action on March 15 that will consist of more than 500 events in over 50 countries. (Editor’s introduction to Common Dreams article)
Following is an article first published in Common Dreams under creative commons licence.
Climate Strikes Going Global
Youth climate leaders from across the globe penned an open letter on Friday condemning the inaction of world leaders in the face of planetary catastrophe and vowing to “make change happen by ourselves.”
“Young people make up more than half of the global population. Our generation grew up with the climate crisis and we will have to deal with it for the rest of our lives. Despite that fact, most of us are not included in the local and global decision-making process,” reads the letter, which was published in the Guardian ahead of a March 15 day of action spanning every continent. “We are the voiceless future of humanity.”
The open letter comes amid a wave of youth demonstrations across the world demanding immediate climate action, many of which have been inspired by the tireless campaigning of 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg.
Over the past several weeks, students in Germany, Australia, Thailand, and other nations have walked out of class to protest their governments’ failure to pursue climate solutions that match the urgency required by the scientific evidence—which says that global carbon emissions must be slashed in half by 2030 to avert planetary disaster.
The school strikes continued on Friday, as Common Dreams reported, with thousands of students marching in Germany, Ireland, and elsewhere. [These numbers are increasing almost daily].
Denouncing the refusal of governments around the world to treat climate change like a genuine existential crisis, the youth leaders declared in their letter, “We can and will stop this madness.”
“We are going to change the fate of humanity, whether you like it or not. United we will rise until we see climate justice. We demand the world’s decision-makers take responsibility and solve this crisis,” the letter continued. “You have failed us in the past. If you continue failing us in the future, we, the young people, will make change happen by ourselves. The youth of this world has started to move and we will not rest again.”
As of this writing, the global youth-led day of action on March 15 will consist of more than 500 events in over 50 countries, with at least 16 taking place throughout the United States.
“For people under 18 in most countries, the only democratic right we have is to demonstrate. We don’t have representation,” Jonas Kampus, a 17-year-old student activist from Switzerland, told the Guardian. “To study for a future that will not exist, that does not make sense.”
Read the youth activists’ full open letter:
We, the young, are deeply concerned about our future. Humanity is currently causing the sixth mass extinction of species and the global climate system is at the brink of a catastrophic crisis. Its devastating impacts are already felt by millions of people around the globe. Yet we are far from reaching the goals of the Paris agreement.
Young people make up more than half of the global population. Our generation grew up with the climate crisis and we will have to deal with it for the rest of our lives. Despite that fact, most of us are not included in the local and global decision-making process. We are the voiceless future of humanity.
We will no longer accept this injustice. We demand justice for all past, current, and future victims of the climate crisis, and so we are rising up. Thousands of us have taken to the streets in the past weeks all around the world. Now we will make our voices heard. On 15 March, we will protest on every continent.
We finally need to treat the climate crisis as a crisis. It is the biggest threat in human history and we will not accept the world’s decision-makers’ inaction that threatens our entire civilization. We will not accept a life in fear and devastation. We have the right to live our dreams and hopes. Climate change is already happening. People did die, are dying, and will die because of it, but we can and will stop this madness.
We, the young, have started to move. We are going to change the fate of humanity, whether you like it or not. United we will rise until we see climate justice. We demand the world’s decision-makers take responsibility and solve this crisis.
You have failed us in the past. If you continue failing us in the future, we, the young people, will make change happen by ourselves. The youth of this world has started to move and we will not rest again.
Could it be that the children of the world will save humanity when we adults could not? ~ Editor for Below2°C
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