On Friday, the Guardian released an op-ed penned by 16-year-old Greta Thunberg and several other youth climate activists that explained why they had decided to not attend school that day to strike in support of climate action. “This movement had to happen, we didn’t have a choice,” they wrote, a refrain they repeated throughout the piece. “The vast majority of climate strikers taking action today aren’t allowed to vote. Imagine for a second what that feels like. Despite watching the climate crisis unfold, despite knowing the facts, we aren’t allowed to have a say in who makes the decisions about climate change. And then ask yourself this: wouldn’t you go on strike too, if you thought doing so could help protect your own future?”
The young activist shared figures from 350.org, Bill McKibben’s grassroots climate movement, indicating that Friday’s climate change protest was the “biggest day of global climate action ever.” Over 1.5 million students participated in the strike to make their voices heard. Thunberg wrote in a statement on Facebook about the need for systemic change, not just technological advancement, to manage the climate crisis. She criticized the current political system’s emphasis on winning, cheating, and profiting at other people’s expenses. “We need to start living within the planetary boundaries, focus on equity and take a few steps back for the sake of all living species,” she wrote. “We are just passing on the words of the science. Our only demand is that you start listening to it. And then start acting. So please stop asking your children for the answers to your own mess.”
Expect the young activist to spark even more climate action in the year to come. “This is not a one-time thing. We are not just protesting to let them see that we care, we are protesting until they do something,” Thunberg said this past Friday. “We are going to put pressure on them and just keep on going.” March 15th’s global strike was inspired by Thunberg’s Fridays for the Future movement, in which she calls upon youth activists to go on strike in front of their town or city hall every Friday until their leaders demonstrate tangible action to head off global warming. She first went on strike last fall, garnering media attention from all around the world, and will continue to strike until Swedish leadership put forth an actionable plan to keep temperatures from rising above a 2 degree Celsius target.
Thunberg was nominated last week for the Nobel Peace Prize by three Norwegian parliamentary members. “We have proposed Greta Thunberg because if we do nothing to halt climate change, it will be the cause of wars, conflict and refugees,” said one of her nominators. “Greta Thunberg has launched a mass movement which I see as a major contribution to peace,” he added. The UN peace and security body has long considered climate change a “threat multiplier” that exacerbates issues like poverty and famine, but only recently debated whether it factors into peace.