By Wessel van den Berg and Karen Robertson of Sonke Gender Justice
Greta Thunberg, a young activist from Sweden is inspiring changemakers all over the world. The 16-year old student made global headlines in February 2019 when, during a speech at the European Parliament, she called on the European Union (EU) to double its climate change reduction targets in order to keep global warming below 1.5 °C. She said:
“But that is not enough. We need new politics. We need new economics. We need a whole new way of thinking. The political system that you have created is all about competition. You cheat when you can because all that matters is to win to get power. That must come to an end. We must stop competing with each other. We need to cooperate and work together and to share the resources of the planet in a fair way. 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. We need to protect the biosphere, the air, the oceans, the soil, the forests. This may sound very naive, but if you have done your homework you know that we have no other choice.”
It wasn’t Greta’s first time drawing attention to the climate crisis and the need for real justice. In August 2018, instead of attending school, she led a strike by sitting outside the Swedish Parliament until Sweden’s general election were held on September 9, 2018.
Greta decided to strike every Friday until Swedish climate policies provide “a safe pathway well under 2 °C .” With the spread of the hashtags #FridaysForFuture and #ClimateStrike, students and adults around the world have joined the call, protesting outside their own parliaments and local city halls and calling on their governments to listen to the scientists and the science – and to act accordingly. “It may sound naive, but if you have done your homework you know that we have no other choice,” said Greta.
She and other activists have been subjected to a lot of hatred on social media, mainly by men, telling them to shut up and go back to school. The response from Greta is: “They seem to be more afraid of me than of climate change.” And she continues: “If you still say that we are wasting valuable lesson time, then let me remind you that our political leaders have wasted decades through denial and inaction… If you think we should be in school instead, may I suggest that you take our place in the streets. Or better yet: join us so we can speed up the process.”
We invite all MenCare partners and allies to show young people that we can listen, care, and act for the future of our children and our planet, by joining a global #FridaysForFuture march on March 15, 2019.
For additional actions, this 350.org article shares 5 ways to support the movement.