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A Global Climate Strike Primer

by Tori Bentley, on Sep 19, 2019 2:21:15 PM

A list of things to think about, and resources to reference, in order to educate and spur further discussion and action related to climate change, and the upcoming Global Climate Strike. 

First things first: What is the Global Climate Strike? 

Spurred by global youth activists, the Global Climate Strike (GCS) will take place from September 20 to September 27, 2019. It will be a global strike, including workers from across industries, and will be in solidarity with the millions of school children worldwide who have been striking and leaving their classrooms each week as a part of #FridaysforFuture. 

To find out more or get involved, check out for locations near you, or to follow the buzz with #GlobalClimateStrike.

What is the goal of the GCS? 
To raise sustained awareness worldwide, particularly in the lead up to the United Nations Emergency Climate Summit, which begins September 23rd in New York City. 

Who’s who in the GCS? 

Greta Thunberg is the 15-year-old climate activist who recently made headlines for sailing on a zero-carbon boat across the Atlantic to protest climate change. Traveling carbon-free was a great way to show real support for the goals of the GCS! She has been an avid advocate for climate justice since age 8 and is now a full-on activist and strike organizer. Her story of resilience, determination, and bravery makes her one of the forefront faces of this particular strike. 

Learn more about Greta here, in an hour-long interview (transcript included) with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now.

History of Environmental Strikes

Whether or not you’re just hearing about the Global Climate Strike, environmental activists have been making noise and protesting pollution for over half a century. Most recently in 2014, an estimated 311,000 people took to the streets in New York City as part of the People’s Climate March. The first Earth Day occurred in April 1970, when 20 million people worldwide first took to the streets in a combined effort to protect the environment. In the nearly fifty years of its existence, Earth Day has resulted in essential legislation, such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Safe Water Act. Global administrations worldwide are keen to reverse these protections for their corporate interest; it is our responsibility as citizens to continue to fight for environmental justice. 

The accessibility of the GSC and similar events

When you think about striking, what comes to mind? Likely, marching, picket signs, days off work, singing and chanting in the rain, snow, sun, by a pipeline. Malcolm X, by any means necessary. There’s more to think about. Many political and social movements, especially those occurring in the street, are inaccessible to the disabled community. Strikes that result in wage loss may not be possible for some individuals or families, no matter how much they agree with the cause behind the strike. If you are an able person at a protest, look around for accessibility features such as ASL or non-English language interpreters at rallies, chairs, benches, or free water at events, wheelchair-accessible locations. These are all signs that the coordinators took disabled protestors into account. Check out this list by the National Council for Independent Living for tips on making your movement or organization accessible. 

Climate change is real

You know that one family member or friend who always contests the validity of climate change? The Global Climate Strike is a great opportunity to discuss issues related to the environment with those in your circle. These conversations can be polarizing, but they are essential. The United Nations University publication Our World writes here about ways to move throughout the climate debate with a climate change skeptic or denier. 

Continue Efforts Beyond September

Concentrated, loud action and protest are necessary for global change. We must continue to fight for climate justice beyond this September; we cannot wait for the next Global Climate Strike. We must take daily action to reduce carbon footprint, to educate ourselves and spread our knowledge about climate change. Accessible changes might include carpooling to save gas or switching to a renewable source of transportation entirely, joining a community garden, volunteering, transitioning to a plant-based diet, or reducing paper products and toxic chemical cleaners in the home.  Furthermore, continue to learn about global efforts to defeat major polluters and climate culprits! Sign petitions, make calls to representatives, participate in democracy around climate issues. Basically, make every day Earth Day! 

For ideas about how to take action beyond the strike, check out this list from the GCS:

Crossovers between global climate strikes and other kinds of strikes 

When we fight and appeal for climate justice, it’s important to keep in mind crossovers between environmental movements and other special interest groups. For instance, states are now issuing straw bans to reduce plastic use, despite an uproar from disability activists, such as Alice Wong, who founded the Disability Visibility Project. Wong has spoken out about how harmful this ban is to disabled citizens, using the hashtag #SuckItAbleism to track the global conversation. All fights against injustice are valid, but some solutions or methods may harm other groups unintentionally. Similar to watching for accessibility at the Global Climate Strike, examine the demands and expectations of any social or political group you affiliate with, and ask whether or not the resolution would help or harm the greater surrounding population.