Global Climate Strikes get the Attention of World Leaders


Mia Cafaro, Editor-in-Chief

On Sept. 20, millions of protesters took to the streets to raise awareness for climate change and pressure politicians to put policies in place to protect the environment.
This movement was inspired by a 16-year-old Swedish activist named Greta Thunberg. Thunberg has missed school almost every Friday since last August to protest outside the Swedish Parliament, demanding more environmentally-conscious policies.
Her small stand has snowballed into a worldwide phenomenon. Organizers estimated that about four million people were involved in the protest. People of all ages showed up to fight for what they think is right, holding signs with slogans such as “There is no Planet B!” Many young people also reminded their representatives that “We vote next,” as a means of asserting that they want to elect officials who are willing to do something about climate change.
Social media has offered the youth a unique opportunity to organize themselves like never before. From Thunberg, the spokesperson of the protest, to the young people leading the protests, it is clear that the protest was largely youth-driven. “Right now, we are the ones who are making a difference. If no one else will take action, then we will,” Thunberg said of the protest.
On Sept. 23, members of the UN gathered to discuss what is to be done to satisfy the protesters. Thunberg spoke at the meeting, making a passionate speech in which she predicted that leaders would fail to step up. Indeed, many expressed disappointment that larger steps were not taken at the conference. However, some leaders have taken steps toward change.
Over the course of the day, 77 countries committed to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and 70 countries announced they would boost their Paris pledges by 2020. The Paris Agreement took effect in 2016 and aims to substantially reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and limit the global temperature increase during this century to two degrees Celsius (35.6 degrees Fahrenheit).
It remains to be seen whether or not these concessions by world leaders will cause the movement to peter out or further ignite it. Either way, climate change will likely be an important issue in the coming months, and it will be interesting to watch the kind of change the attention incites.