Was Our Protest Enough?
For anyone paying close attention to climate news, the past week and a half has been a rollercoaster. But following the global climate strike and the UN’s Climate Summit in New York last week, are we any closer to fixing the problems we face?
There’s no disputing that the global climate strike was a success. Millions of us took to the streets all over the world in order to make a statement that enough is enough. It was a call to action to any and all. A war cry for a movement that is beginning to find its voice and demand better.
As an initial step, this strike was successful. However, as far as achieving goals, we still have a long way to go. Strikes are most effective when they cause disruption and the extent of the disruption the global climate strike caused is questionable. In the wake of the strike, the UN held its Climate Summit in New York, the one Greta Thunberg famously sailed across the Atlantic to attend. And how did that go? Well, it could have gone better to be honest.
India, China and the EU said they will be tougher on reducing carbon emission plans in 2020, while President Trump came late, left early and didn’t look all that interested – the crumbling climate clearly not something that warrants his full attention. Although it’s been reported that 60 countries have committed to zero out carbon emissions, they are not the big emitters and collectively only equate to 11% of global carbon emissions in 2017.
Head of Greenpeace International, Jennifer Morgan was quoted in the BBC saying, “for the most part, world leaders did not deliver what was needed in New York today.” An uncomfortable conclusion to both the global climate strike AND the UN Climate Summit.
Of course, by now you will have all seen Greta’s UN speech where she condemned world leaders saying they have failed the youth. Although the French President said that her anger at this government was misplaced, we can only admire her conviction. These world leaders invited her to the Summit to hear what she had to say. The fact it made many of them uncomfortable, or wasn’t delivered in the norms of political decency, is irrelevant.
But there’s one line that sits with us from Greta’s speech, “you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you.” This line alone illustrates just how ludicrous the situation has become, when the people with the greatest power in the world, turn to a 16 year old student for answers.
The logistics of getting through our climate problems are complex. However, targets and pledges only carry clout when backed up by legislation, laws and disincentives. How we get our governments to implement them is the real struggle as we know what they say and what they do can be wildly different things.
The global climate strike was a win. The first battle in the climate war waged against our planet's leaders. Some argue that repetition is what's needed. Much like Greta’s Fridays For Future, perhaps the global climate strike will gain more serious attention if it becomes weekly. Will it be acted upon quicker if protests and demonstrations start to cause real disruption, like government shutdowns and parliamentary suspensions?
There’s a message here for persistence, whether that’s showing up on the picket lines, or returning your unwanted fruit and veg packaging to your supermarket. Change never happens overnight, or in a vacuum.
Yes, our protest was enough, but its effectiveness shouldn't be measured by the outcome of a lacklustre UN Climate Summit, but by the momentum it generates. Our job, is to keep that momentum going…