On Friday, thousands of young protesters gathered worldwide to demand climate action and to “uproot the system” around the anniversary of the 2019 Global Youth Climate Strike.
Protests were planned in more than 80 countries, including Germany, Scotland, Bangladesh, Spain, Kenya, Britain and the U.S., with some occurring earlier in the week. Nonprofits such as Fridays for Future — the Gen Z-aimed organization started by youth climate activist Greta Thunberg in 2008 — catalyzed the protests, which are the largest since the pandemic.
Just two years ago, the Global Youth Climate Strike became known as the largest climate rally in history, earning its claim to fame with some four million people gathered globally. Even Jane Fonda was arrested at past Fridays for Future “Fire Drill Friday” events held that year at Capitol Hill.
As companies and governments show off their more ambitious emissions reduction goals, Fridays for Future is seizing the moment for demanding action from decision-makers.
“The good news is that scientists believe limiting warming is absolutely technically possible,” Katharina Maier, organizer with Fridays for Future U.S., said in a press statement. “With renewable energy technologies, changes in farming and transport, and other big changes, we can limit warming and avoid even worse outcomes. However, most of us are not shifting our way of living, way of consuming, way of traveling, way of producing energy, etc.”
Fridays for Future launched an anniversary video ad campaign Friday titled “The Denial,” featuring an arid landscape and menacing monolith (representing the climate crisis) in which an actor, dressed in all black, confronts and runs squarely into the wall before flattening backward. To that, Maier said: “We are literally collectively running into a wall. This is why we decided to play on this contradiction and the urgency to act to save our planet before it’s too late.”
Climate Week NYC is also underway, though the event is facing some local criticism from activists for headline sponsors like National Grid (a natural gas company expanding a fracked gas pipeline in North Brooklyn). Together, Friday’s strikes, Climate Week NYC and the U.N.’s August report on the urgency of net-zero emissions set the scene for the United Nations’ COP26 climate change summit on Nov. 1.