ICYMI, the world is ending and it’s probably (mostly) all our fault. Icecaps are melting, air quality is degrading and our oceans are choking with the plastic wastewe’re responsible for putting there. And according to new research, our 12-year time limit to clean up our mess has been reduced to only about 18 months.
That’s why Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old climate change activist and Nobel Prize nominee, has been urging students to skip school and stand up for their future since 2018, because what’s the point of all that studying if you don’t learn how to care for your planet?
In this spirit, Thunberg, who began protesting by standing outside the Swedish parliament in August 2018 and has inspired countless others to protest in their respective countries around the world, has called for a Global Climate Strike this September 20, which is set to be the biggest global movement calling for a Climate Emergency so far.
From September 20 to 27, thousands of students are planning to cut class and fight for their planet, inspiring adults to join them this time around. This global climate action week is meant to be a resounding reminder to governments and corporations to be more mindful about the environment with their policies as the United Nations prepares for its annual Climate Action Summit on September 23.
Why you should care
A similar protest movement saw much success in May, with many students grasping the importance of asking for a Climate Emergency and doing their bit, from segregation to giving up single-use plastic, and even a petition that has gathered over 100,000 signatures. But still, there was no significant shift in the government’s policy, prompting environmental activists to gather the troops once again, this time with more urgency. Planned in more than 115 countries and 1,000 cities, this movement wants to combat climate change, especially given the recent Amazon fires, loss of biodiversity and plastic pollution penetrating the Artic snow. Closer to home, we’re about to lose the Aarey forests, one of the biggest natural habitats in Mumbai, more than 50,000 mangroves for the sake of a bullet train, and critically endangered species are on the verge of extinction.
“This year we witnessed heatwaves followed by flash floods in eight cities and we massively lack any political will for urgent climate mitigation and adaptation measures,” says Karen Raymond, the national organisers for Fridays For Future (FFF), a movement founded by Thunberg that calls for students to strike every Friday until authorities take stock of the urgency of the situation. “Speeding up the environmental clearances on developmental projects and large scale massacre of forests can never be justified by few plantation drives. We need to balance and restore the human-induced climate crisis and this begins with the public being aware of this injustice towards the planet and all its earthlings that only profit a very small population,” she says.
How declaring a climate emergency will help
While this Global Climate Strike, the largest mobilisation of people to lobby for the environment, is a students’ initiative, it is not just restricted to schoolgoers. In fact, the corporate community has also been urged to surrender one pay-day and prove to their employers that even in this economy, the primary point of focus needs to be protecting our environment over our interest rate. The idea is to push the government to formulate policies that regulate carbon emissions, shift to renewable green energy, restructure resources at a speed that supports the growth of civilisation while shielding the environment and align our policies in accordance with those discussed during the Paris Agreement to curtail the rise of global temperatures to under 1.5 degree celsius.
“Declaring climate emergency is symbolic, the first step in accepting that we’ve made a mistake,” says Chittranjan Dubey, the Indian founder and South Asian coordinator of Extinction Rebellion (XR), a movement that believes this call-to-action strategy is essential to fight for human survival in the midst of a climate crisis. “We are asking the government to stop deforestation in the name of development. Coal, uranium and sand mining, along with construction activities, which create about 22 percent of the dusty air pollution by using a material like cement must stop. We need to harvest water resources, store rainwater, and develop methodologies to resolve the water crisis. We need some drastic action to make our net carbon emission zero, which isn’t possible now, but we believe needs to happen by 2025.”
How you can help
So now you know that you kinda have to come out and stand in solidarity with the environment and all those trying to keep it safe. While FFF and XR are two major groups rallying forces, they have also teamed up with organisations in more than 75 smaller cities so everyone can be involved, while other activist organisations like Jhatkaa are also actively involved in organising people. You too can show up and support the strike at any of the locations mentioned below and on any of the dates given below. These include primary protests stationed at official offices including the Ministry of Urban and Housing Affairs and the Central Secretariat, and even a walk through the Aravalli range to make you truly comprehend why it’s worth saving.
You can also sign the Climate Strike petition urging authorities to implement an emergency.
But mostly, you can do your bit by yakking off to anyone and everyone who’ll listen that our planet is dying and it’s up to us to come together, recycle, rebuild and resurrect it.
If you’d like to be a part of the Global Climate Strike in India, you can join the movement at any of the below locations:
Delhi: Ministry of Urban and Housing Affairs, 11 AM and Lodhi Garden, 3 PM
Bengaluru: Townhall, 5 PM
Mumbai: Shivaji Statue, Juhu, 5 PM
Chennai: Police Booth in Besant Nagar, 6.30 PM
Guwahati: Dighalipukhri park entrance, 3 PM
Hyderabad: People's Plaza, Necklace Road, 4 PM
Kolkata: Exide More, 3 PM
Pune: Sambhaji Park on JM Road, 6.30 PM
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