Greta Thunberg and a million international student strikers

Compendium Volume 3 Number 1 July 2019

At the age of 15, Greta Thunberg began sitting on the steps of the Swedish parliament with a handmade sign reading: “skolstrejk för klimatet” or “school strike for the climate.” The decision to act came about seven years after she first learned of climate change. The fact that adults didn’t seem bothered to do anything about the global crisis shocked her, and then sent her into a depression. Activism pulled her out of depression and thrust her onto the international stage. It didn’t take long for her solo picketing efforts to spark a global movement spanning 125 countries of more than a million kids striking from school for climate. Greta intends to continue striking outside the Swedish Parliament until it passes legislation that upholds commitments made in the Paris Climate Accord. 

Excerpted from a Guardian guest editorial by climate strikers Greta Thunberg (Sweden), Anna Taylor (UK), Luisa Neubauer (Germany), Kyra Gantois, Anuna De Wever and Adélaïde Charlier (Belgium), Holly Gillibrand (Scotland), and Alexandria Villasenor (USA):

This movement had to happen, we didn’t have a choice. The vast majority of climate strikers taking action today aren’t allowed to vote. Imagine for a second what that feels like. Despite watching the climate crisis unfold, despite knowing the facts, we aren’t allowed to have a say in who makes the decisions about climate change. And then ask yourself this: wouldn’t you go on strike too, if you thought doing so could help protect your own future?

So today we walk out of school, we quit our college lessons, and we take to the streets to say enough is enough. Some adults say we shouldn’t be walking out of classes – that we should be “getting an education”. We think organising against an existential threat – and figuring out how to make our voices heard – is teaching us some important lessons. 

For the full PDF version of the compendium issue where this article appears, visit Compendium Volume 3 Number 1 July 2019