With dramatic action being all that is left to save even part of humanity from the accelerating effects of the climate crisis, millions marched across the world yesterday to send a very different kind of message to world leaders.
Greta Thunberg as she spoke in front of Berlin's Reichstag on September 24, 2021.
With Greta Thunberg’s “Fridays for Future” organization leading the way, the first major Global Climate Strike since before the pandemic rocked streets in countries as far apart as Germany, the Philippines, Italy, and Pakistan to demand a far more radical kind of change when this year’s UN Climate Summit begins just a little over a month from now.
Thunberg chose standing in front of the Reichstag parliamentary building in Berlin, Germany, as the place to take her stand yesterday. Germany was the site of devastating flooding which engulfed much of the nation in July. It was again a sign that the climate crisis is getting worse and becoming more a daily part of life for most people on the planet.
Thunberg set the tone for the protests by acknowledging that, “It has been a very strange year and a half with this pandemic.”
It was because of that that protests all the way through the pandemic and up to the present major event were of necessity virtual. Without people gathering physically in large numbers, those past events drew far fewer numbers and less attention.
“But of course, the climate crisis has not disappeared,” she continued. “It’s the opposite – it’s even more urgent now than it was before.”
This year the message to be carried across the world was more than just to do something about it. It was more explicit, more demanding, and more pointed in its directives.
Among those was a message that those who have been most responsible for global carbon emissions, many of whom live in the northern parts of the world, must finally take responsibility and cease turning this into yet another wasteful exercise of political punditry.
“As emissions and inequalities increase, we rise up and demand climate justice,” said Luisa Neubauer in Berlin alongside Thunberg.
“The global north should be developing climate policies that have at their core climate justice and accountability to the most affected people and areas,” said Brazilian activist Valentina Ruas in a fiery interview.
“Instead,” she continued, “they continue to exploit vulnerable communities and recklessly extract fossil fuel, while bragging about their insignificant emission reduction plans.”
A great example of this ruthless abandonment of the world is this week’s announcement by China’s President Xi Jinping that his country would be putting an end to investments in coal-fired power plants in developing countries. It was meaningless climate politicking in the face of China’s continued construction of its own coal-fired power plants, at a rate many times that of the entire rest of the world combined. With China being the number one carbon emissions producer in the world, with 28% of the world’s total on its carbon balance sheet, it was a self-serving and dangerously misleading assertion that will kill the planet.
Though mostly unmet greenhouse gas emissions reduction pledges are not counted on for much of anything to save the planet these days, it is of note that even the United Nations admitted in a report released on September 17 that current commitments would still produce a 16% rise in total carbon emissions in the next decade.
That is of course just the human-caused parts of what is happening. As a recent review of the impact of global wildfires revealed, global forest and permafrost fires have become one of many climate-crisis-induced feedback loops that can no longer be stopped. During this summer those fires contributed sometimes half of all carbon emissions on the planet.
According to organizers of the global youth-led event, in the end over 1800 climate protests in at least 70 countries took place by the time the day was complete. They happened in cities big and small in Europe, Africa, Asia, and in North and South America.
In Germany where terrifying proof of what the future has already brought, it was estimated crowds grew to hundreds of thousands just within its borders alone.
In Mexico, the company Pemex, one of the biggest oil companies in the world, saw protesters marching in front of the country’s National Palace to demand a detail plan to decarbonize the company fully and forever.
In the Philippines, those joining the strike pushed for rapid movement away from the use of toxic fossil fuels for electrical power generation.
YACA Philippines, a youth-advocate group based in this southeast Asian nation, came to the streets on September 24 with the following message ;"Calling for #UprootTheSystem, we strike against the systemic roots of the climate crisis and demand for drastic emission cuts and people-centered adaptation," they said in a tweet tied to this image. Photo: Youth Advocates for Climate Advocates Philippines
In South Africa, climate activists gathered for demonstrations in 12 cities, not just yesterday but as part of three-day demand for the government to extricate itself from dependence on fossil fuels.
In London protesters were outside parliament to push the country to much tougher plans to address the climate crisis.
This year’s protests brought with them a more detailed list of demands for what the youth of the world say world leaders must deliver now
Their message was tough and clear. The climate-related parts of the message are reprinted here in their entirety.
ON SEPTEMBER 24, WE WILL STRIKE TO DEMAND FOR INTERSECTIONAL CLIMATE JUSTICE.
The climate crisis does not exist in a vacuum. Other socio-economic crises such as racism, sexism, ableism, class inequality, and more amplify the climate crisis and vice versa. It is not just a single issue, our different struggles and liberations are connected and tied to each other. We are united in our fight for climate justice, but we must also acknowledge that we do not experience the same problems; nor do we experience them to the same extent.
MAPA (Most Affected Peoples and Areas) are experiencing the worst impacts of the climate crisis and are unable to adapt to it. This is because of the elite of the Global North who have caused the destruction of the lands of MAPA through colonialism, imperialism, systemic injustices, and their wanton greed which ultimately caused the warming of the planet. With ...every crisis in history, overexploited countries and marginalized sectors of society are systematically left behind to fend for themselves.
The time to join the masses and follow the lead of the environmental defenders and workers has been long overdue. Reparations to MAPA must be paid for the historic injustices of the richest elite, drastic emission cuts in the Global North, cancellation of debt, and climate finance are only the beginning of these. Together we will fight for a just future where no one is left behind. The historical victories of collective action have proven the need for the youth to stand united with the multisectoral, intergenerational struggle for a better future for all; a future where people and planet are prioritized.
OUR MESSAGE TO WORLD LEADERS
- The Global North needs to cut emissions drastically by divesting from fossil fuels and ending its extraction, burning, and use. We need concrete plans and detailed annual carbon budgets with roadmaps and milestones to ensure we get to net-zero with justice and equity in the time needed to address climate change.
- The colonizers of the north have a climate debt to pay for their disproportionate amount of historic emissions and that starts with the increase of climate finance to implement anti-racist climate reparations, the cancellation of debts especially for damage caused by extreme weather events, and providing adaptation funds that serve the communities.
- Recognize the tangibility of the climate crisis as a risk to human safety and secure the rights of climate refugees in international law.
- Recognize the invaluable impact of biodiversity on indigenous communities’ lives and culture, and commit to make ecocide an international punishable crime.
- Stop the violence and criminalization against indigenous peoples, small farmers, small fisherfolk, and other environmental and land defenders. Support the work they do. Respect and listen to our defenders.
OUR MESSAGE TO EVERYONE
- MAPA (Most Affected Peoples and Areas) are unheard, not voiceless. They’ve been fighting for their present, not just their future. No one should be a prisoner of injustice. Don’t fight FOR MAPA, fight ALONGSIDE MAPA. MAPA are not just sad experiences, we must highlight their rich stories of resistance.
- MAPA countries are not “poor,” they are rich with resources but have been historically and systematically oppressed and kept from developing. The Global North leaders have a climate debt to pay to humanity. Urgent climate action and assisting with adaptation is not an “honorable duty” or “solidarity” it’s reparations for the injustices high income nations and sectors have caused through their exploitation.
- MAPA voices must be amplified and centered in our fight for climate justice, otherwise even if we succeeded in limiting global warming to safe levels for life on Earth, marginalized communities would still be sacrificed and left behind, thus only part of the problem would be solved.
- Now more than ever, we have to join the masses and follow the lead of environmental defenders, workers, and those most ignored. Join in their struggle for decolonization, justice and autonomy. We must remember that our liberations are tied together.
In the Marshall Islands, one of many places where sea level rise due to global ice melting will engulf the entire country possibly by mid-century, the citizens there are watching the beginning of all life as they currently know it disappearing because of the greedy inaction by the rest of the world.
“We simply have no higher ground to cede,” said Marshall Islands President David Kabua to the press on September 23. “The world cannot delay climate ambition any longer.”
For those who want to know more about the climate crisis, how to navigate the much hotter future ahead, and for specific plans and technologies that could help adapt to and mitigate what is only about to get worse, please visit us at https://www.climatesurvivalsolutions.com.