Millions of people across the world joined the Global Climate Strikes held on September 20-27 to urge action to stop climate breakdown following the IPCC report in October last year saying that humanity has 12 years left to stop dangerous carbon emissions level. The strikes were the biggest climate protests in history, bigger than the march before the ratification of the 2015 Paris Agreement drawing people from all ages and demographics.The strikes were held ahead and in time of UN Climate Action Summit in New York.
Since the Paris deal, people have sustained momentum in calling on governments to step up action on reducing greenhouses gases in order to limit the global temperature to 1.5C, but the sight of young people rising and boycotting schools amplifies the urgency of the issue.
Sparked by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish girl, the youth movement has exploded to exponential numbers to include young people from all points of the globe – from the Pacific islands through Australia, across Asia and Africa, into Europe and onwards to the Americas.
About 185 countries where demonstrations took place had their individual targets– from rising sea levels in the Solomon Islands to toxic waste in South Africa, air pollution and plastic waste in India and coal expansion in Australia.
But the overall message was unified – a powerful demand for an urgent action to cut emissions and to stabilise the climate.
Who is Greta Thunberg?
She is a Swedish girl who, on August 20, 2018, started skipping school and staged her solo protest at the Swedish Parliament. Under her arm she carried a wooden placard with a handwritten words “SKOLSTREJK FOR KLIMATET” (School Strike For Climate). She did not realise that the single act would change her life creating ripples to change the course of history.
The Swedish media started noticing here. Others would soon to follow. International newspapers and magazines write about her.
After a few weeks, Thunberg became the icon of youth activism. Among the highlights include:
She addressed the European Economic and Social Committee in February
She spoke at a gathering to 25,000 at Berlin”s Brandenburg Gate in March
Talked to EU leaders at the European Parliament in Strasbourg in April
She became the cover of Time Magazine, May 27, 2019 Edition
Visited the Austrian World Summit in May where she met with Hollywood star Arnold Schwarzenegger, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres and Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen,
She was a guest at the US House of Representatives Select Committee on the Climate Crisis September 18
She sailed to New York to attend the Global Climate Strike on September 20 before attending the Climate Action Summit two days later.
US President Donald Trump tweeted a video of her opening remarks and commented sarcastically: “She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!” Greta paid him back in the same coin, changing her Twitter profile to describe herself as “a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future”. Read more here.
What is the UN Climate Action Summit?
The Summit aimed at bringing together governments, the private sector, civil society, local authorities and other international organizations to develop ambitious solutions in six areas: a global transition to renewable energy; sustainable and resilient infrastructures and cities; sustainable agriculture and management of forests and oceans; resilience and adaptation to climate impacts; and alignment of public and private finance with a net zero economy.
This means ending subsidies for fossil fuels and high-emitting agriculture and shifting towards renewable energy, electric vehicles and climate-smart practices. It means carbon pricing that reflects the true cost of emissions, from climate risk to the health hazards of air pollution. And it means accelerating the closure of coal plants and halting the construction of new ones and replacing jobs with healthier alternatives so that the transformation is just, inclusive and profitable.
In order to ensure that the transformative actions in the real economy are as impactful as possible, the Secretary-General has prioritized the following action portfolios, which are recognized as having high potential to curb greenhouse gas emissions and increased global action on adaptation and resilience.
Youth Climate Summit
The UN Youth Climate Summit was a platform for young leaders who are driving climate action to showcase their solutions and to meaningfully engage with decision-makers on the defining issue of the time.
The summit, held on September 21, featured a full-day of programming that brought together young activists, innovators, entrepreneurs, and change-makers who are committed to combating climate change at the pace and scale needed to meet the challenge. It was action oriented, intergenerational, and inclusive, with equal representation of young leaders from all walks of life.
For free photos on Global Climate Strike in Melbourne, contact The Green Journal AU.
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