'I Strike For Those Not Seen in Pictures'

Global climate strikes resume today, as ahead of COP25, students rally to keep critical pressure on the public and private sectors

November 29, 2019

1:04 pm

Temperatures are still rising. Fires are still burning. Ice is still melting. Seas are still rising. Weather continues to be unpredictable. Countries are still far from meeting their Paris Agreement commitments.

So why, then, would the global, Friday climate strikes stop?

In fact, they won’t. Today marks the first of two back-to-back major Friday strikes, which will help close 2019 with much-needed momentum. Strikes today are expected to take place in 2,300 cities around the world, in 153 countries.

“This strike [today] is a connector between September 20th [the first of two strikes held in September, during UN Week] and all that’s going to happen around Earth Day in the spring,” wrote Alex Farrington, Director of Campaigns and Implementation at Future Coalition, in an email.

Today’s strike is meant to rally concerned global citizens ahead of the all-important COP25 (aka Conference of the Parties, the annual UN climate conference), this year being held in Spain. (Note: COP25 was originally supposed to be held in Chile, but social unrest in that country led to the President of Chile to cancel meetings there.)

The second strike will take place a week from today, on December 6, halfway through the two-week climate conference, which will kick off in Madrid this Monday, December 2.

“On November 29th and December 6th,” said Katie Eder, Executive Director of Future Coalition, one of the strikes primary organizers, “youth in the United States and across the world are calling on people to take to the streets following a historic youth-led Climate Strike in September when millions of people left school and work to demand action on climate change.”

[Disclosure: Future Coalition is a grantee of Earth’s Call, which supports the youth-led work of Future Coalition to call attention to the dangers of the climate emergency.]

The strikes today, which as of this writing have already begun in Australia, Asia, and Europe, saw scenes such as:

  • Bangkok, Thailand: “dozens of young people gathered ... for a climate strike in solidarity with others around the world, chanting: ‘No more coal, no more oil, keep the carbon in the soil.’ ” (Reuters)
  • Melbourne, Australia: “one protester trampled by a police horse, several hit with capsicum spray, a dozen people arrested, and provoked public criticism about the severity of the police response” (Guardian)
  • Leuven, Belgium: “Almost 400 people, both young and old, took to the streets … at the call of the Students for Climate Leuven platform to demand a more ambitious climate policy, a few days before the 25th United Nations Climate Conference.” (Brussels Times)
  • Cork, Ireland: “Hundreds gathered at Lapp’s Quay … Many placards encouraged people to 'boycott Black Friday', a day that has become synonymous with mass consumerism.” (Cork News)

Speaking of Black Friday, last year, the Trump Administration tried to use the frenzied day of consumer activity as a smokescreen for its climate malfeasance. "It was a year ago when the White House tried to bury the National Climate Assessment by releasing it on Black Friday," noted Roberta Baskin, Board Chair of the Earth's Call Fund. "The ensuing criticism served to call more attention to it than it otherwise might have gotten. So let this and every ensuing Black Friday serve as a reminder of the political challenges combatting the climate crisis."

Earth’s Call reached out to others participating to get their take on what would make today’s strikes different from those in September.

"This strike comes just after the release of a major climate report by the Lancet showing that climate change is damaging the health of our children and youth right now,” said Sarah Spengeman, Ph.D., Associate Director, Climate and Health program for Health Care Without Harm, “and poses a major threat to their right to a healthy future. Children born today, including my 20-month-old daughter, are facing lifelong health consequences that will greatly impair their quality of life and lead to early deaths for millions  of these children around the world. Our youth are literally striking for their lives. Climate change is a health emergency. We must join our youth in the streets and demand action now."

"I strike for those not seen in pictures,” said Jerome Foster II, Executive Director & Founder of OneMillionOfUs, a youth climate striker who's organizing the weekly White House climate strikes and the Fire Drill Friday strikes with Jane Fonda, “those not seen in news articles or headlines. In which the world has forgotten about, neglected, and moved on. I strike for the wildlife — if there is anything ‘wild’ left. I strike for the insects, the fish, the birds, reptiles, mammals, and people. I strike because the corporations won't stop, I strike because world governments don't act. I strike to demand an end the destruction of today and genocide of our future. I strike for the hope of a new economic system, one based not on growth but equitable development. I strike because we must, because we must show them what action looks like. I strike because I am mature enough to call out corruption. I strike to demand climate action, in solidarity with my generation because we do not want change but need it. I strike to stand united with the future of humanity."

Jerome Foster II

The last word goes to Future Coalition’s Eder: “This strike and the one on December 6 is the start of our movement’s escalation. When we said September 20th was only the beginning, we meant it. Our movement is growing, and we’re taking it to the next level.”

(Cover photo credit: Markus Spiske/Unsplash)

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