Science

Global Climate Strike: On ground, online and underwater

Today, March 19, climate activists are holding another Global Climate Strike to call on world leaders to stop making empty promises and take urgent climate action. Climate activist Shaama Sandooyea holds a placard reading: “Nou Reklam Lazistis Klimati” (Mauritian creole for “We Demand Climate Justice”). Image credit: © Tommy Trenchard / Greenpeace
Climate activist Shaama Sandooyea holds a placard reading: “Nou Reklam Lazistis Klimati” (Mauritian creole for “We Demand Climate Justice”). Image credit: © Tommy Trenchard / Greenpeace

Today, March 19, climate activists are holding another Global Climate Strike to call on world leaders to stop making empty promises and take urgent climate action.

Even prior to today’s strike, the world’s first underwater climate strike was held at the heart of the Indian Ocean by climate activist and Fridays for Future Mauritius Co-Founder Shaama Sandooyea. In the Philippines, Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines (YACAP) held a protest this morning outside the Standard Chartered office in Makati City together with other climate action groups, including 350 Pilipinas and Kalikasan PNE. The climate activists called on Standard Chartered to divest from funding coal projects in the Philippines. Holding Standard Chartered accountable and calling upon it to stop “fueling the climate crisis” is one of the aims of today’s Global Climate Strike, whose official hashtags include #NoMoreEmptyPromises, #CleanUpStandardChartered, #RaiseYourStandards, and #FridaysForFuture.

No more empty promises

Climate activists in the Philippines were able to deliver their demand letter when they protested at the Standard Chartered office in Makati City. The amount on the check represents how much money the bank has poured into coal in the country. Image credit: Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines
Climate activists in the Philippines were able to deliver their demand letter when they protested at the Standard Chartered office in Makati City. The amount on the check represents how much money the bank has poured into coal in the country. Image credit: Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines

The first Global Climate Strike was held from Sept. 20-27, 2019, a little over a year since Swedish student Greta Thunberg started the first school strike for climate, inspiring millions and launching the global Fridays for Future movement.

Sandooyea is joining youth activists and climate strikers around the world in today’s protest action. The Greenpeace press statement quoted Sandooyea as saying:

“’We can’t keep treading water on the climate crisis’ said Sandooyea. ‘I’ve taken a stand here in this beautiful, remote area of the Indian Ocean to deliver a simple message – we need climate action and we need it now. With fellow Fridays for Future activists around the world, I want to see the climate crisis taken seriously. Reducing emissions and protecting our oceans are some of the best ways to do that. 

“’Being from an island nation I know first-hand just how important healthy oceans are, not just to our climate but to the billions of people in the Global South who depend on them. That’s why global leaders must commit to a network of ocean sanctuaries protecting at least 30% of our oceans. We need urgent action if we are serious about supporting people, fighting climate breakdown and protecting wildlife.’

“Sandooyea, marine biologist and one of the co-founders of Fridays for Future Mauritius, is at the Saya de Malha Bank with the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise as part of an expedition surveying this important but little-researched area.”

Climate strikes around the world

With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, digital climate strikes have also become the norm, including during Earth Day 2020. The 3.19 Global Strike will be held online or in small numbers on ground, with climate activists following COVID-19 guidelines.

Because of the time zone difference, the 3.19 Global Climate Strike has already started in several countries.

The life climate activists chose

Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines International Spokesperson Mitzi Jonelle Tan taking part in the digital strike after leading the physical climate strike this morning. Image credit: Mitzi Jonelle Tan
Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines International Spokesperson Mitzi Jonelle Tan taking part in the digital strike after leading the physical climate strike this morning. Image credit: Mitzi Jonelle Tan

Why are the youth doing this?

Because someone has to. Because it’s their future and the future of their children that’s at stake. Because in a world where so many adults have dropped the ball, the youth have chosen to pick it up.

As YACAP International Spokesperson Mitzi Jonelle Tan eloquently put it in her essay “The Life We Chose” for Bad Activist Collective:

“We live in a scary world. Climate activists are being silenced for telling people that our house is on fire and we need to do something about it. Climate activists are called terrorists for wanting a safer present and a green future. The situation is so much worse for so many others at the frontlines: our farmers, fisherfolk, and indigenous peoples. There is a fear that comes naturally with the rising deaths of our environmental defenders and activists, not just in the Philippines, but globally.  In my three years of activism, I still haven’t fully understood this fear, just that with every case of online harassment, warrantless arrests, terror-tagging, or extrajudicial killing, it only continues to grow. But with every blow of injustice, our resolve also gets stronger. It becomes clearer and clearer that we have no choice but to fight back —  it’s only logical. We must continue to walk the path of activism despite the threats —  no, because of the threats to our lives and liberty. This is the life we choose. 

“Though fear and anger often motivate us to start acting, and are very valid reasons, they are tiring emotions and can burn you out. Love is a candle that burns steadily and will light the path to a better future; not because love is the answer to everything, but because bringing down the systems of injustice that have existed for eons is going to be a lot of work and it is extremely difficult. We need something more sustainable than anger and fear. We need something that we can never be desensitized to, something the oppressors can never take away from us; and that is love. We must be bonded in this fight by a love that is stronger than fear —  a love for the people and the planet. It is through love that hard decisions are made, through love that we stick to these difficult tasks. It is through love that revolutions are won.”

No more empty promises. No more time for that.