Most people who keep up with the news will know about the recent climate strikes all over the world from Vancouver to Manila and right here in the Netherlands, in Den Haag. Between September 20 and 27, Global Climate Strike organized hundreds of strikes around the world to make history, and demand governments to take action for the climate. What problems are we facing, what is happening with our government and what do people want? Today, I will break down the origins, happenings, and future of climate strikes.
The Friday climate strike became a worldwide protest after youth around the world realized world leaders were not pushing climate action agendas. As the future generation of people, many young adults, students, and teens are concerned about the world that is being left behind for them by previous generations and are demanding some kind of action is taken to prevent any more damage to the environment. The Friday climate strike began with one iconic teenager, Greta Thunberg.
Greta Thunberg is the 16-year-old at the forefront of climate action led by Gen Z. She started protesting in front of the Swedish parliament on school days and other students began to follow suit. The movement was named “Fridays for Future” and soon after, strikes began taking place around the world. Greta Thunberg is credited as the leader of the climate movement but as she addressed world leaders at the United Nations Climate Action Summit on September 23, she should not have to take such great responsibility. Greta has openly criticized world leaders and governments for failing to protect the environment, and they will face resistance from the people who will suffer the most.
Many governments implemented climate policies and take part in climate change forums such as in the United Nations, but many people believe they can take more extreme measures to minimize climate change effects. This ranges from teaching about environmental protection in national education systems to ending subsidies for oil corporations, reforming the waste and recycling system and taxing (or at least sanctioning, like fines) environmentally unfriendly behaviors like using fossil-fuel-powered cars or not recycling altogether. It is up to world leaders and their governments to use their power to restrict harm against the environment and to enforce measures that prevent climate change, and ultimately, young adults just want to make sure they can inhabit the world in the next 20 to 30 years.
Back to last Friday, Global Climate Strike helped organize the strike that took place in Koekamp, right across from Den Haag Central Station. Protesters of all ages from all over the Netherlands gathered in Den Haag to walk the 3-kilometer course around the city center. A reported 25,000 people total had come to protest and apparently, the entire 3-kilometer course was completely full during the strike. Although the Netherlands is one of the countries with better climate policy in the world, many protesters still believe the government can be more ambitious with their policies.
But now, what’s next? These climate strikes have gained international attention by the media and by governments and with teens like Greta, people believe this takes us a step closer to climate reform. In the meantime, citizens can channel their efforts into environmentally friendly behavior, from supporting green organizations and companies, changing their habits like biking to and from places and flying less. We will continue protesting the government and fight for our future.
Author & Editor: Kat Nivera