Strike with the youth for climate justice

In the next two weeks, on Sept. 20 and Sept. 27, young people from all over the world will be joining the global climate strike. Although I am turning 60 years old next month, I am supporting this activity. I also urge everyone, young and old alike, to do the same. 

No issue is more important in these times than that of the climate emergency. But the young are the ones particularly affected by it. This is because those 30 years old or under will be at the peak of their lives when the worst impact of climate change is felt between 2040 and 2050. 

We still have a chance to avoid the worst impact, but only if we act decisively in the next five to ten years, and make determined decisions in the next two years to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

The Philippines will not be spared the impact of the climate emergency. In fact, we are at the top of the list of the most vulnerable. Because of this, we must also do our part to reduce emissions. Above all, that means imposing a moratorium on building new coal-fired power plants and beginning the process of closing down the older coal plants while making sure we have affordable alternatives in place so we do not lose power.

In the Philippines, participants in the global mobilization include the Youth Strike for Climate Philippines Movement, a national youth-led movement aiming to empower young people to take action in addressing the effects of climate change. It takes part in demonstrations on the streets to demand action from the government. The movement is premised on the youth sector’s vital role in addressing the climate crisis. It aims to mainstream the climate issue to more young people to engage and inform them to strengthen the collective action toward a sustainable future. It believes the youth must be at the forefront of the ongoing global struggle against the climate crisis for the survival of our planet. 

Likewise, the Youth Advocates for Climate Action in the Philippines will also be joining the mobilization. These advocates warn us that our house is on fire and are sounding the alarm: The time has come for multigenerational action against this climate emergency.

There are many other youth and non-youth organizations that are participating in the strike as this is an inclusive movement, Indeed, there will be mass actions in many of our cities and provinces. Students and youth will be joined by adults as is the case in the rest of the world.

Bill Mckibben of 350.org explains what this strike is all about:

“Business as usual is what’s doing us in. We live on a planet that finds itself rather suddenly in the midst of an enormous physical crisis. Because we burn so much coal and gas and oil, the atmosphere of our world is changing rapidly, and that atmospheric change is producing record heat. July was the hottest month we’ve ever recorded. Scientists predict with confidence that we stand on the edge of the sixth great extinction event of the last billion years. People are dying in large numbers and being left homeless; millions are already on the move because they have no choice.

And yet we continue on with our usual patterns. We get up each morning and do pretty much what we did the day before.

That’s why it’s such good news that the climate movement has a new tactic. Pioneered last August by Greta Thunberg of Sweden, it involves disrupting business as usual. It began, of course, in schools: Within months, millions of young people around the world were striking for days at a time from their classes. Their logic was impeccable: If the institutions of our planet can’t be bothered to prepare for a world we can live in, why must we spend years preparing ourselves? If you break the social contract, why are we bound by it?

And now those young people have asked the rest of us to join in. After the last great school strike in May, they asked adults to take part next time. The date is Sept. 20, and the location is absolutely everywhere. Big trade unions in South Africa and Germany are telling workers to take the day off. Ben and Jerry’s is closing down its headquarters (stock up in advance), and if you want to buy Lush cosmetics, you’re going to be out of luck. The largest rally will likely be in New York City, where the U.N. General Assembly begins debating climate change that week—but there will be gatherings in every state and every country. It will almost certainly be the biggest day of climate action in the planet’s history. (If you want to be a part—and you do want to be a part—go to globalclimatestrike.net.)

It’s not a “strike” in the traditional sense, of course—no one is demanding better wages. But we are demanding better conditions. In the most literal sense, the world isn’t working as it should (studies say that increased heat and humidity have already reduced human work capacity as much as 10 percent, a figure that will double by midcentury). And what we’re saying is, disrupting business as usual is the way to get there.

This strike will not be the last such action.

But it can’t be just young people. It needs to be all of us—especially, perhaps, those of us who have been placidly operating on a business-as-usual basis for most of our lives, who have rarely faced truly serious disruptions in our careers and our plans. Our job is precisely to disrupt business as usual. When the planet leaves its comfort zone, we need to do the same. See you on the streets on Sept. 20!”

From the website globalclimatestrike.net, I borrow these Frequently Ask Questions (and their answers):

Why go on #ClimateStrike?

Our house is on fire. The climate crisis is an emergency but we’re not acting like it. People everywhere are at risk if we let oil, coal and gas companies continue to pour more fuel on the fire. 

Our hotter planet is already hurting millions of people. If we don’t act now to transition fairly and swiftly away from fossil fuels to 100 percent renewable energy access for all, the injustice of the climate crisis will only get worse. 

We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart.

But it’s going to take all of us working together to succeed. 

Millions of us will walk out from home, work, school or university to declare a climate emergency and show our politicians what action in line with climate science and justice means.

The climate crisis won’t wait, so neither will we.

What difference will it make?

These Climate Strikes won’t solve the climate crisis alone. What this moment can do is demonstrate that people are no longer willing to continue with business as usual. The urgency of the climate crisis requires a new approach and a just response centred on human rights, equity, and justice. 

Greta Thunberg’s lone protest caught the world’s attention last year, and has spread to millions of school children who are sounding the alarm. Now it’s everyone’s turn to stand with young people and show world leaders the people power demanding climate justice. September’s climate strikes will kickstart a huge wave of action and renewed ambition all over the world.

What is being demanded by the climate strikers?

The climate crisis is an emergency—we want everyone to start acting like it. We demand climate justice for everyone.

Our hotter planet is already hurting millions of people. If we don’t act now to transition fairly and swiftly away from fossil fuels to 100 percent renewable energy for all, the injustice of the climate crisis will only get worse. 

We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart


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