Last Friday millions of people collected together in cities across the globe in what is being dubbed the largest climate protest ever. The youth movement that birthed these protests, Fridays for Future, was started in August 2018 by Greta Thunberg to protest against the lack of action on the climate crisis. Striking wasn’t limited to affluent Western Nations and young people mobilised from Islamabad to the Solomon Islands.
Whilst previous Fridays For Future have been limited to school-age children, the strike on September 20th called on adults to join young people in supporting action. This call was answered by 72 trade unions and federations worldwide organising for their members to leave work and stand alongside youth activists. Workers from companies like Google and Facebook joined the strike with some companies even closing retail branches to allow their staff to attend.
As each timezone woke up, stories of large groups turning out at strikes continued to appear. Partner in plastic bottle free water brand, Just Water, Jaden Smith and musician sister, Willow, surprised crowds waiting for Greta Thunberg in New York by giving a performance.
Gisele Bundchen posted a picture with her children at the New York strike. The Brazillian model is an avid environmentalist who was named Harvard’s Global Environmental Citizen in 2011.
It has been a busy week for 16 year old climate activist, Greta Thunberg, founder of the Fridays For Future movement. She made an appearance on Friday in New York, speaking on stage in front of thousands of people stating “We are doing this to wake the leaders up. We are doing this to get them to act. We deserve a safe future”.
Then, earlier this week, the young activist made a rousing speech as she and 15 other children filed a UN complaint against 5 of the most polluting countries in the world. Thunberg's scathing speech directly addressed the members of the U.N. accusing them of caring more about money and "fairytales of eternal economic growth" than the rapid collapse of ecosystems.
Frequent Euronews Living readers might have noticed a lack of content on Friday as our team attended the climate strike in London where we are based.
By midday, crowds stretched from Millbank into neighbouring Victoria Tower Gardens and all the way down to Parliament Square where usually busy streets were empty enough for attendees to lay across the roads. According to official estimates announced at the strike, over 100,000 people attended the march. The prgramme for the day featured appearances from youth leaders like National Union of Students President Zamzam Ibrahim and Anna Taylor, Co-founder of the UK Student Climate Network.
Organisers at London’s strike claimed that they had called on all political parties to speak but only leaders from the Green Party and the Labour Party answered. Addressing the crowd, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said that climate change knows no national boundaries, “Destroying nature ultimately destroys all of us”.
Early in the day there were many groups of schoolchildren defying schools minister, Nick Gibb's claim that even one day of missed school could affect attendees exam results. Many of those in attendance, however, were not old enough to be concerned about exams with a considerable number of primary age children accompanied by their parents.
The protest route took the Climate Strike through Parliament Square and down Whitehall towards Trafalgar Square. As the march passed the entrance to Downing Street, loud boos grew from the gathered crowd and a chant of "where the fuck is the government" started up.
This historic week of action that has seen people come together to call for action on the climate crisis across the globe isn't over yet. Friday 27th will see further Global Climate strikes in Dublin, Warsaw, Lisbon and many other cities.