Global Climate Strike 20 Sept: Where will you be when the world demands urgent climate action?

The strike is timed to coincide with big international, including the UN Climate Summit, and release of the IPCC Oceans and Cryosphere Report.

On 20 September, millions of activists, citizens, students and employees around the world will gather near local landmarks and government buildings with one demand: urgent climate action. This will be the third Global Climate Strike led by the international organisation Fridays for Future, led by school students who take time off from school on Fridays to protest for due attention to climate change and global warming.

The Strike is timed to coincide with some big international events: the UN Climate Summit in New York on 23 September, and the IPCC Oceans and Cryosphere Report, due on 25 September. Before climate experts, international delegates and policymakers gather to chart out, kids have set out to make headlines in the days leading up to these important meetings. Millions of people are expected to take to the streets to pressure global leaders to respond to climate change on the war footing.

Friday’s event is the third in a series of international strikes inspired by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old climate warrior who became the world’s leading voice in climate activism in a span of one year. Thunberg began skipping school on Fridays in protest outside her country’s Parliament, demanding immediate action in response to the climate crisis. She inadvertently started a movement when local and then global media took notice. Today, Thunberg is at the helm of the biggest international youth movement in the 21st century, which now has a global stage.

A protester holds up a placard as he demonstrates during a rally held the day before the start of the Paris Climate Change Summit in Madrid, Spain, November 29, 2015. The placard reads:

A protester holds up a placard as he demonstrates during a rally held the day before the start of the Paris Climate Change Summit in Madrid, Spain, November 29, 2015. The placard reads: "The thermometer of the life, No more CO2". Reuters

What is the objective of the strike?

The Global Climate Strike is an attempt to disrupt the status quo. Students, parents, teachers and employees will stage walkouts to send a clear message that the masses want changes. At the heart of the strike is the push for swift transition away from fossil fuel-dependant economies. Three key demands the students have made are:

  • No new coal, oil and gas projects.
  • 100 percent transition to renewable energy and export by 2030.
  • Fund transition and job creation for all fossil fuel workers and communities.

This Global Strike means business

While Fridays for Future strikes engages students, the Global Climate Strike invites the masses. Organisers hope these strikes will have the largest turnout of any climate strikes thus far, involving labourers, employees, university students, the retired, even major businesses in addition to school students that led previous strikes. The urgency underlying Thunberg’s Strikes for the climate are directed at big businesses and politicians, many of which aren’t just contributing to the problem, but preventing a solution.

Climate activists stop in front of the COP24 UN Climate Change Conference venue during the March for Climate in a protest against global warming in Katowice, Poland December, 2018. AP

Climate activists stop in front of the COP24 UN Climate Change Conference venue during the March for Climate in a protest against global warming in Katowice, Poland December 2018. AP

A number of companies have also pledged to participate by closing their stores, including Ben & Jerry's, Patagonia, and Lush. Burton will shut down sales on its website and instead direct customers to the Global Climate Strike site, according to Fast Company. It will also be turning its stores into spaces for people to gather before and after the march, and offering paid time off to employees to participate. Google, Amazon, and Microsoft employees have also pledged in large numbers to walk off their jobs and strike on 20 September.

"We’re hoping the strike will not only raise awareness globally to citizens who will be seeing us marching on the streets, but it will also exert pressure on our global government,” Xiye Bastida, a 17-year-old student and core member of the Fridays for Future New York City chapter, told Elle magazine.

Many NGOs, unions, social movements, and companies have expressed support for the strikes, including, Amnesty International, Extinction Rebellion, Greenpeace International, Oxfam, WWF, Patagonia, Ben & Jerry's, Lush, Atlassian, and more. New York City public schools have announced plans to "excuse students to participate in climate strikes", with parents' permission.

The Strike on 20 September will also be the first general strike in the United Kingdom in 93 years.

When will the Global Climate Strike be held?

The Global strike will begin 20 September, coinciding with the UN emergency climate summit in New York. A second strike is planned on 27 September, which coincides with the Earth Strike, a general strike to save the planet.

Why should you protest?

The planet is set to warm by somewhere between 3 - 4ºC by 2100, with huge ramifications for everyone’s quality of life, particularly in developing countries in the tropics, like India. Last year, one estimate suggested that humans had 12 years to make the changes required before some permanent changes in the environment. At the other extreme, an estimate puts it at 18 months. With a lot at stake unless drastic measures are taken fast, children are taking a strong stand to fight for their future.

But here are three of dozens of great reasons to join the protests, from environment scholar and author Bill McKibben's list in the Guardian:

"Strike because the people who did the least to cause this crisis suffer first and worst – the people losing their farms to desert and watching their islands sink beneath the waves aren’t the ones who burned the coal and gas and oil."

"Strike because coral reefs are so gloriously beautiful and complex – and so vulnerable."

"Strike because sun and wind are now the cheapest way to generate power around the world – if we could match the political power of the fossil fuel industry we could make fast progress."

Now that public polls show "climate" is viewed as the "most important issue", maybe the overlords will finally submit to the new order: fixing the climate change fiasco should be the next order of business.

Also read: New York the epicenter of climate action this week with UN Climate Summit, Global Strike

Global climate strike planned on 20 September wins union support in UK, Germany

Barack Obama meets Greta Thunberg, calls her 'planet's greatest advocates'

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