We live in a world where the adults are acting like children and the children are acting like adults. There is no escaping the conclusion that we have not done enough to protect kids from climate change. In defense of their futures children are taking it upon themselves to expose our unconscionable failure and demand climate justice. One of the world’s leading advocates for climate action is 15 year old Swede Greta Thunberg. While some may see her as an angel, others think she is more like a ghost from Charles Dickens popular novella, A Christmas Carol. Either way the message Greta delivered at COP24 is reverberating around the world. She pulls no punches and tells it like it is. She reflects on her future and she imagines that if she has children one day they may ask her, “why you didn’t do anything while there still was time to act.” She then makes an appeal to parents saying: “You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes.”
This excerpt from Greta’s address at the recent climate conference in Poland explains where we are at and why we are not doing more:
“You only talk about moving forward with the same bad ideas that got us into this mess, even when the only sensible thing to do is pull the emergency brake. You are not mature enough to tell it like it is. Even that burden you leave to us children. But I don’t care about being popular. I care about climate justice and the living planet. Our civilization is being sacrificed for the opportunity of a very small number of people to continue making enormous amounts of money. Our biosphere is being sacrificed so that rich people in countries like mine can live in luxury. It is the sufferings of the many which pay for the luxuries of the few…Until you start focusing on what needs to be done, rather than what is politically possible, there is no hope. We cannot solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis. We need to keep the fossil fuels in the ground, and we need to focus on equity. And if solutions within the system are so impossible to find, then maybe we should change the system itself. We have not come here to beg world leaders to care. You have ignored us in the past, and you will ignore us again. We have run out of excuses, and we are running out of time. We have come here to let you know that change is coming, whether you like it or not. The real power belongs to the people.”
Greta practices what she preaches. Every Friday she stages a protest in front of the Swedish Parliament to demand climate action. When she attended COP24 in Poland she traveled by EV to avoid the footprint associated with air travel. Greta also called on other kids to strike for climate action. Tens of thousands of students in hundreds of cities and towns around the world have heeded her call.
In Australia thousands of children skipped school to protest their governments inaction on climate change. After students in Canberra held a protest, kids across Australia followed suit. There were student protests in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and elsewhere.
“This is just the beginning. This is our first strike, our first movement altogether,” one of the protest leaders said. “We will keep leading more campaigns until something is done”.
Australia is not the only nation where Students are protesting. Students from schools all around the world are cutting class and going on temporary strikes to call for climate action. This includes kids in Poland, Germany, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, France, Belgium, Japan, Canada, the Netherlands, the U.S., and the U.K.
Changing our energy mix is at the top of the agenda of young people looking to defend their futures. Curtailing our use of dirty energy is critical that is why young people shut down a pro fossil fuel panel organized by the Trump administration at COP24. “We need to keep the fossil fuels in the ground,” Greta explained.
Following the student strikes more than one thousand youth activists came together to participate in a sit-in at Democratic leaders offices in Washington DC. They went to the Capitol to support the idea of a Green New Deal.
Young people are demanding action from the newly elected Democrat controlled House of Representatives “Any politician who wants to be taken seriously by our generation needs to support solutions that match the scale and urgency of the climate crisis,” said Sunrise co-founder Varshini Prakash in a press release. “If the Democrats want the youth vote in 2020, they need to get to work on a Green New Deal in 2019”.
In response to the protests Rep. McGovern (D-Mass), the incoming chair of the powerful House Rules Committee, said: “I want to make sure that it happens. I am committed to the House Select Committee on a Green New Deal to deal with the issue of climate change.”
The fact that Rep. Hoyer has received more than a quarter of a million dollars from fossil fuel interests during his congressional career prompted Prakash to say: “We need you to do more than listen. We need you to take the #NoFossilFuelMoney pledge and support the proposed Select Committee on a Green New Deal by the end of the year. We’re doing our job, will you do yours?”
Kids are fighting for their lives. To their credit, this generation of young people will not be mollified by platitudes they will settle for nothing less than concrete action.
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