For more than a year, just about every Friday at noon, Invaliden Park in downtown Berlin was transformed into a vivacious, noisy, swarming hubbub with teenage speakers, bands, and live dance acts — as well as Germany’s top climate scientists — all sharing a makeshift stage and a microphone.
For more than a year, just about every Friday at noon, Invaliden Park in downtown Berlin was transformed into a vivacious, noisy, swarming hubbub with teenage speakers, bands, and live dance acts — as well as Germany’s top climate scientists — all sharing a makeshift stage and a microphone. Several thousand mostly school-age pupils waved banners and placards proclaiming “There is no Planet B,” “School Strike for Climate,” and “We’re on strike until you act!” Their chants against fossil fuels and for swift, decisive action on global warming echoed against the granite facades of the federal ministries for economy and transportation, both adjacent to the square.
The happening was the weekly “school strike” in Berlin of Fridays for Future (FFF), the climate crisis movement that began in 2018 with the Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg skipping school once a week to protest her country’s half-hearted response to climate change. The movement then ricocheted across the globe, mobilizing school-age young people — in wealthy countries as well as poor — as never before. Last year, the campaign culminated in international demonstrations of millions in cities and towns from Cape Town, South Africa to Anchorage, Alaska, all with the same goal: to force their nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions and become carbon-neutral by 2050.
“There was a brilliant logic to the school strikes that drew people in,” explains Bill McKibben, author and co-founder of the climate action group 350.org. “If [the adult world] can’t be bothered to prepare a liveable world for me, why should I be bothered to sit in school and prepare for that future? That basic idea really hit home.”
Fridays for Future can claim some significant achievements, including strongly moving public opinion in favor of climate action and helping Green parties in Europe make major gains in elections. Still, even before the coronavirus outbreak and the banning worldwide of gatherings and demonstrations, the momentum of Fridays for Future had slowed. Fewer young people were attending the weekly protests, and the movement was recalibrating its strategy and tactics, shifting to stepped-up election activities and direct-action campaigns against fossil fuel interests, with mixed success.
Read more at Yale Environment 360
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