~ by Brian Rowe, National Catholic Reporter
After roughly 6,000 actions in 180-plus countries bookended by two main days of demonstrations, the third global climate strike has come to a close. In 185 countries, the September 20 and 27 global climate strikes drew an estimated 7.6 million people young and old to 6,100 actions according to organizers who called it the largest-yet distributed mobilization calling for action on climate change.
A day after the September 20 strikes, the U.N. presented the Fridays for Future movement, inspired by Swedish 16-year-old Greta Thunberg who joined strikers in New York City.
Before and after the strikes, Thunberg pressed elected leaders and older generations to save any plaudits for the youth strikers. Instead, she urged them to first listen who what climate scientists are saying – that global greenhouse gas emissions must be cut in half by 2030, and reach net zero by 2015. “For more than 30 years, the science has been crystal clear. How dare you continue to look away and come here saying that you are doing enough, when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight,” she said in a speech September 23 at the U.N. Climate Action Summit.
Mitzi Tan, a 21 year-old recent college graduate who joined the strike in Quezon City, Philippines, said, “people don’t realize how bad the situation is here.” The archipelago nation is among the most vulnerable in the world to impacts from climate change, like more powerful typhoons, rising seas and strains on crop and fisheries production. Part of that, she said, is a lack of connecting observed changes to the impacts scientists have identified accompanying a warming climate. Another factor is people preoccupied with other pressing issues such as hunger, homelessness and rising oil prices.
Many of the strikes had an intergenerational aspect to them. Marilou Fernando-Canuzo, was inspired by her youngest son to join the Fridays for Future movement. “A mother would naturally do anything to ensure that her children will have a bright future ahead or should I say, a better world to live in…climate change is no joke.” She hoped that the governments would take this seriously.