By Lise Alves
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – More than a million students skipped school throughout the world on Friday (March 15th) to protest against climate change. The movement, dubbed ‘Fridays for Future’ and started by sixteen-year-old Swedish activist, Greta Thunberg, held protests in over 100 cities, including many in the United States and Canada.
“Because sea levels are rising, and they’re soon to affect places in the U.S.,” explained Cambridge, Massachusetts student, Maya Counter, to local radio station, WBUR while holding a sign that read, ‘Soon you’ll see the coast from Nevada’.
“Climate change is a huge thing affecting everyone in this world, and I think it’s important to stand up against it. I think, as a youth, it’s very important to start at an early age,” added Counter.
Protests like the ones which occurred in the U.S. were also seen in South Africa, India, New Zealand and South Korea.
In Europe, students packed streets the streets of Rome, Lisbon, Barcelona and Copenhagen.
In London, a banner read, ‘We’re missing lessons to teach you one’, while in Berlin students screamed ‘We are here, we are loud, because you are stealing our future’.
“Driven by an alarming lack of government leadership on climate action over previous decades,” as stated by the UK Youth Climate Coalition, the students of the world decided to follow Greta’s lead and strike on Friday.
“We’re angry at the lack of government leadership on climate change,” said the UK Youth Climate Coalition on their social media.
“Those in power are not only betraying us, and taking away our future, but are responsible for the climate crisis that’s unfolding in horrendous ways around the world” concluded the Coalition.
Students also stepped out in cities in Brazil, like Recife, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Brasilia.
With posters stating that ‘This planet is getting hotter than my imaginary boyfriend’ and ‘There is no Planet B’, students in Rio de Janeiro gathered outside the city’s legislative assembly building to pressure lawmakers into taking concrete action to stop the rising sea level in the city.
In Recife, Pernambuco the students stated that they would continue to protest every Friday until ‘those with power take action’.
“If Greta [Thunberg] got so much attention on her own and was able to get people from several countries to join the movement with her, why not get together two, three or thirty [people] here?” organizer of the protest in Recife, Luciana Naira told G1 website.
“My dream is to see (one of Recife’s main avenues) Agamenon Magalhães filled with people, showing that we have to take care of the Capibaribe River,” added Naira.
According to students, the clock is ticking. An October 2018 report by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change gave the world only twelve years to cut carbon emissions to keep global temperatures from rising more than 0.5 degrees Celsius.
A study published by the UN this week found that Arctic temperatures are still expected to spike, no matter what, ‘which will worsen sea level rise’.
“Even if the world were to cut emissions in line with the Paris Agreement, winter temperatures in the Arctic would rise 3-5°C by 2050 and 5-9°C by 2080, devastating the region and unleashing sea level rises worldwide,” said the study released on Wednesday, March 13th.
Much of what the students said, however, may have fallen on deaf ears. British Prime Minister Theresa May is said to have criticized the school strikes as ‘wasting lesson time’ and Australia’s education minister, Dan Tehan, suggested students should protest ‘after school or on weekends’.
Nonetheless, activists say they will continue to pressure lawmakers and world leaders to take action and if this strike doesn’t accomplish that, another global protest is planned for May.