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CWA # 343, 17 September 2020

GLOBAL PROTEST MOVEMENTS
#FridaysforFuture: The global protests against Climate Change

  Rashmi Ramesh

The very evident changes in the climate has kindled the conscience of the civil society, particularly the youth to work towards a better, sustainable planet. The protest that began as a demand for the Swedish government to adopt policies complying with the Paris agreement, grew as a movement against the inaction over climate change. But, are climate change protests in consonance with the level of economic development in a country? This essay makes an attempt to look into this hypothesis.

Background

Climate change is one of those phenomena, which has its effects on all regions, people, biodiversity, indiscriminately. Whether it is the rise in sea level or melting of the ice or burning forests, climate change has its impact on every corner of the globe, more or less. Civil society has been realizing this in recent times. Though the scientists have been issuing warnings, for a long time, the larger section of the civil society and the policy making community were hibernating. With realization and fear of extinction seeping in, people have taken active role in taking part in issues of climate change.

Greta Thunberg, a school student who spearheaded the movement “Fridays for Future” in Sweden, inspired the youth and the civil society to fight for the cause. In August 2018, she began protesting in front of the Swedish Parliament, demanding effective climate policies and stronger climate action. Her slogan Skolstrejk för klimatet (school strike for climate) gained popularity among school students and the youth, who joined her in her protest. 2018 was also crucial because of Swedish General Election. Her protests helped in making climate change the most important election issue.

Under the banner of Fridays for Future, the school strikes spread across communities and students across Sweden and other parts of Europe. Prior to the United Nations Climate Action Summit, the movement had found place in different countries across Asia, Africa and the Americas. Greta became the poster child of the climate protests.

The United Nations and its agencies are leading the efforts of the globe towards combating climate change. In 2019, the United Nations Climate Action Summit, a dedicated platform to address various issues surrounding climate and environment was held. This is also the time when the civil society, particularly children and youth are under the limelight in international meetings and conferences focusing on climate change.

Click the PDF file to read the full essay. It was first published in the NIAS Quarterly on Contemporary World Affairs, Vol 2, Issues 2&3. 

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