March 19, 2021
‘Not in 2030 or 2050…Now!’: Climate Strikers Worldwide Demand Urgent Action
Returning to the streets a year into the coronavirus pandemic, youth campaigners are calling for “no more empty promises.”
Jessica Corbett, staff writer
After a year of online actions and occasional in-person protests limited by the coronavirus pandemic, the youth climate strikers of the Fridays for Future movement returned to streets around the world on Friday to demand urgent, ambitious action that meets the scale of the planetary emergency.
“We strike because climate justice isn’t a myth, but a reality we intend to build.”
—Luisa Neubauer, Fridays for Future
Frustrated that governments across the globe continue to craft emissions reduction plans that experts warn are inadequate to avert climate catastrophe, youth campaigners planned actions in more than 60 countries with a clear, unified demand: #NoMoreEmptyPromises.
“When your house is on fire, you don’t wait for 10, 20 years before you call the fire department; you act as soon and as much as you possibly can,” said movement founder Greta Thunberg when the global strike was announced in January.
In a tweet Friday, Thunberg explained that she and some fellow activists were striking in shifts to keep numbers low. The 18-year-old Swede shared a photo of Fridays for Future members—masked and socially distanced—holding signs.
Sweden has banned gatherings of more than eight people due to the public health crisis, Reuters noted. Unlike the pandemic, world leaders aren’t treating climate change like a crisis, Thunberg told the news agency.
“The first step must be to start treating it like a crisis and to just take in the full picture, to see this in a holistic point of view,” she said. “Science says that we can still avoid the worst consequences. So it’s possible, but it’s not possible if we continue like today.”
While researchers and advocates continue to warn of the looming consequences of dangerously inadequate efforts to reduce planet-heating pollution, participants in the worldwide strike emphasized that the climate emergency isn’t just something to worry about for the future.
“The climate crisis already affects thousands of people in the world,” Fridays for Future member Hannah Pirot told The Berlin Spectator, which reported on activists painting temporary slogans on the Oberbaum Bridge, a famous landmark in the German capital.
“We need systematic changes because the climate crisis is the result of structural exploitation and ecological destruction,” Pirot said. “Fighting the climate crisis also means championing for an anti-racist, feminist, and solidary society, and to think about a a fair way of cohabitation.”