School students have held another round of strikes and protests in several European countries, as well as the rest of the world, to demand tougher action against climate change on Friday, May 24th.
The British newspaper The Guardian reported that hundreds of thousands of children and young people walked out of lessons around the globe on Friday, May 24th with strikes in more than 1,400 cities in more than 110 countries.
Beforehand, organisers said the number of young people taking part would top the 1.4 million people who participated in the global day of strikes in March, and therefore made this one the biggest protest yet.
The 'Fridays for Future' school strikes movement was first inspired by teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg in her native Sweden, and has spread across Europe from there. Greta herself participated in the school strike for climate in Sweden on Friday May 24th. In a video on her Twitter feed, she also urged everyone to “sit outside your parliament or local government building until your nation is on a save pathway to a below 2 degree warming target.”
In the United Kingdom, a group of climate activists called Extinction Rebellion have joined the movement in recent months. Some of the group’s members glued themselves to trains and obstructed traffic across London, with protest marches in central streets and crossroads to highlight the issue. Explaining their message to 7Dnews, spokesman Jamie Kelsey-Fry said they wanted to “disrupt ‘business as usual’ until change happens.”
The movement’s point was further reinforced by reports citing spiking temperature records, and dramatic warnings from scientists as to reasons to act urgently. The UN released a report on May 6th, which outlined that one million species are dangerously close to extinction due to human interference.
Only days later, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) declared that the European Union was being dangerously wasteful with resources. Based on the data for Europe, the so-called Earth Overshoot Day, the day by which humanity uses as much ecological resources as the planet’s ecosystems can renew over the whole year, would already land on May 10th for 2019.
Climate activism has finally achieved what scientists have been trying to do for decades. Awareness for the effects of global warming has entered public consciousness. Mass demonstrations and targeted acts of protest across Europe have made concerns about climate change hit the headlines.
On May 20th, Greenpeace climate campaigners decided to make such a targeted statement, and blockaded oil and gas giant BP’s headquarter office in central London to call the company out for exploring fossil fuels, and a business model that “is not sustainable with a liveable future.”
According to AP, the issue of climate change is also expected to play a significant role in this week’s 2019 European Parliament election, that began Thursday May 23rd, and runs through Sunday May 26th, in all of the bloc's 28 nations.
The election only poses another reason for students to demonstrate. Many of the protesters are too young to vote themselves, but are urging family members, older friends and other voters with signs and banners to consider the planet's long-term future on their behalf.