Children and young people just staged the world’s largest strike to save our future

Children and young people have issued an urgent call for adults to join them on a general strike on 20 September.


Featured image via Perth School Strike/Flickr

On 24 May, over a million children around the world marched out of school to demand their voices are heard over the growing climate chaos that we all face. Under the banner of #ClimateStrike and #SchoolStrike4Climate, these young people are a powerful force.  

“Join us!”

Swedish 16-year-old Greta Thunberg has inspired children around the world. She’s been on strike, leaving school every Friday, since August 2018, to “urge leaders to do more to tackle climate change”. The movement has soared globally, and the 24 March strike was the biggest yet. Young people around the world marched out of school to share their rage and demand that governments and leaders take urgent action.

As Thunberg noted, young people left school in at least “1623 places” in “119 countries around the world”:

Children and young people have also issued an urgent call for adults to join them on a general strike on 20 September. Well-known activists and academics including Naomi Klein, Margaret Atwood, and Noam Chomsky have now backed this call.

“But this also has to go beyond education. We need to halt climate time-bombs like fracking, the new deep coal mine in Cumbria and the third runway at Heathrow. And importantly we need strong action from all parties to boost renewable energy, create green jobs and address the vast inequalities in our society.”

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A manifesto for tackling the climate change crisis

Have your say at the Green New Deal set up

The Sunrise Movement is promoting the Green New Deal via posters like this one - Photo courtesy of Nancye Belding

The House of Commons saw two separate motions calling on Canada to declare a climate change emergency. This is a big deal, since it means many of our politicians are finally waking up to see climate change as what it is — a global crisis that demands urgent action.

But, actions speak louder than words. If, and likely when, it passes next week, this emergency declaration will still be backed up by a climate plan that misses the Paris targets and puts us on track to exceed 4ºC of global temperature rise.

That’s why a Green New Deal for Canada is so important, because a climate emergency demands an emergency level response. This weekend kicks off more than 150 town halls across the country where people from all walks of life will get together to craft the ambitious climate solutions that we need response.

This energy to declare a climate emergency didn’t come of out of nowhere. For the past few months student strikes have poured out of classes and into our communities calling for bold action. The Our Time campaign has launched across the country, bringing in thousands of young people committed to winning a Green New Deal for Canada by building a once in a generation voting alliance for climate justice. And, earlier this month, the Pact for a Green New Deal launched, collecting tens of thousand of signatures from people who believe we can, and we must, do more to tackle climate change and inequality.

All of this has pushed our politicians to respond with platforms, pledges to show us their vision of a Green New Deal for Canada and now, climate emergency declarations.

This energy to declare a climate emergency didn’t come of out of nowhere. For the past few months student strikes have poured out of classes and into our communities calling for bold action. The Our Time campaign has launched across the country, bringing in thousands of young people committed to winning a Green New Deal for Canada by building a once in a generation voting alliance for climate justice. And, earlier this month, the Pact for a Green New Deal launched, collecting tens of thousand of signatures from people who believe we can, and we must, do more to tackle climate change and inequality.

All of this has pushed our politicians to respond with platforms, pledges to show us their vision of a Green New Deal for Canada and now, climate emergency declarations.

With over 150 town halls confirmed in cities, towns and First Nations, we’re just getting started. If you’ve been waiting for it, this is the moment to get involved. MORE

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Pact for the Green New Deal: “Now is the time to build power behind the solutions we need.”

The Guardian view on a Green New Deal: we need it now

” Ms Ocasio-Cortez rightly sees parallels with the response to the 1930s crisis where President Roosevelt dispensed with economic orthodoxy and tamed Big Finance. He created a New Deal jobs programme that employed millions, oversaw a massive expansion of government and remade the US industrial base.” – Guardian editorial

Policymakers ought not wait for economic theory to catch up with the environmental crisis


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has spelled out what a Green New Deal involves in a House resolution: rejecting economic orthodoxy to confront climate change.’ Photograph: Leah Millis/Reuters

The Green New Deal is probably the most fashionable policy in the English-speaking world. In Britain it is advocated by both Tory MPs and Jeremy Corbyn; while a non-partisan Canadian coalition of nearly 70 groups are backing such a scheme. However, it has been made flesh by US Democrats, in particular the political phenomenon in the US House of Representatives, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Ms Ocasio-Cortez has spelled out what a Green New Deal involves in a House resolution: rejecting economic orthodoxy to confront climate change. She ought to be congratulated twice over.

At present the thinking is for governments to tackle global warming by including the social cost of carbon in the prices people pay, either through a carbon tax or a system of tradable carbon-emission permits. Such ideas have a role to play in changing the way societies consume and produce energy, but they are only moving us incrementally – if at all – towards sustainability. Global emissions of carbon dioxide are higher than they have ever been, almost three decades after the first global conference aimed at reducing them. The situation is becoming dangerous for human life. The latest figures show there is little more than a decade to save ourselves and the other creatures with whom we share the planet. To do so we must decouple economic activity from carbon emissions and ecological destruction.

Young people won’t accept anything less than a justice-centred Green New Deal

Catherine McKenna’s talk about ‘growing the economy while protecting the environment’ doesn’t pass the smell test.

Image result for Ricochet: Young people won’t accept anything less than a justice-centred Green New Deal

The rhetoric of Canada’s minister of environment and climate change doesn’t match the Liberal government’s record in office

This past Monday over 60 groups from across Canada — including Our Time, a youth-led campaign I’m organizing with — launched the Pact for a Green New Deal. It’s a call for politicians in Canada to present a climate plan in line with climate science and Indigenous teachings that creates millions of good jobs and addresses inequality.

Tens of thousands of people have already signed on in support, catching the attention of federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna. The same day the Pact went live, she published an op-ed about her and her government’s climate record. Reading it, I was struck by inconsistencies between McKenna’s thoughts and my own experience as a young person who has been organizing for climate justice throughout McKenna’s term in office.

One of my first organizing experiences was with a campaign called the People’s Climate Plan in 2016. We were organizing around the federal climate change town halls, doing outreach and providing support for people in our communities to show up and speak up for ambitious climate policy.

McKenna ignored our voices. Instead, she approved the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, along with other pipeline projects.

One of my first organizing experiences was with a campaign called the People’s Climate Plan in 2016. We were organizing around the federal climate change town halls, doing outreach and providing support for people in our communities to show up and speak up for ambitious climate policy.

McKenna’s pride in her climate record rings hollow when so many, especially frontline communities, have been fighting tooth and nail against the disastrous fossil fuel projects she’s approved.

I spent countless hours that spring and summer talking to people in Halifax and, as a result, Halifax MP Andy Fillmore’s town hall was packed, with 250 people in attendance. The people at that town hall were clear: they wanted climate action in Canada to end fossil fuel expansion, support workers in the transition to a renewable economy, and fully implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples — including the right to free, prior, and informed consent for natural resource projects. And all across the country, the same demands emerged in other towns halls — we even wrote a report about it for McKenna. MORE

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CANADIANS TALK CLIMATE ACTION: #CANCLIMATEACTION TOWN HALLS REPORT

Emissions inequality: there is a gulf between global rich and poor

Image result for Emissions inequality: there is a gulf between global rich and poor
jag_cz / shutterstock

American congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently shook up environmental politics by releasing a broad outline of a Green New Deal– a plan to make the US a carbon-neutral economy in the next ten years, while reducing both poverty and inequality. Lauded by many as a radical and necessary step, president Trump responded in typical style:

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

I think it is very important for the Democrats to press forward with their Green New Deal. It would be great for the so-called “Carbon Footprint” to permanently eliminate all Planes, Cars, Cows, Oil, Gas & the Military – even if no other country would do the same. Brilliant!

The Green New Deal doesn’t directly call for people to consume less meat. But the argument that solving climate change means changing our diets is widespread, and Ocasio-Cortez herself has made the link.

From personal carbon footprint calculators to articles outlining how many Earths we need to sustain the consumption of the average citizen of the UK, Europe or the US, consumption is identified as the problem. Reduce consumption, runs the argument, and you solve climate change. But is “our” consumption really the problem? Who is “we” anyway?

Globally uneven consumption

This point has been made before, but bears repeating. Most of the world’s population produces very little in the way of either carbon emissions or broader environmental impacts. We can go further here by also looking at imported carbon emissions – that is, the emissions that come from the production of goods and services in countries such as China that are then consumed in the wealthy countries of the global north. If we include imported emissions, the UK’s overall emissions have only marginally decreased since 1990. MORE

The answer to climate breakdown and austerity? A green new deal

Business as usual is causing environmental destruction and spiralling inequality. Our bill is a radical plan to address both

Here’s why a national service for the environment could be the key to fighting climate change

A man walks through a garden on an autumn day in Srinagar, Indian-administered Kashmir, November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Danish Ismail     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - D1BEUMYSKWAA

Recent climate strikes prove the youth are prepared to fight for the planet.  Image: REUTERS/Danish Ismail

The school climate strikes show that young people want to fight climate change, but their enthusiasm for collective action is largely untapped. A volunteer conservation army could mobilise their talent and passion by channelling it into work to restore ecosystems.

The Green New Deal – endorsed by US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and numerous presidential candidates – is a plan to eliminate carbon emissions in ten years, provide full employment in building clean energy infrastructure and redistribute wealth to tackle inequality.

The Green New Deal has encouraged people to embrace radical solutions to climate change by sharing its name and ethos with the New Deal of the 1930s. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal was a transformation of America’s economy which put thousands to work in manufacturing and redistributed wealth to help the country recover from the Depression.

One of the first and most popular programmes of the New Deal was the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) – a public work relief programme that enlisted millions of young men in conservation work throughout the natural environment of the US. Reviving the scheme could prove a popular and effective way for countries to mobilise the climate strike generation in environmentally beneficial work. MORE

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is right – it’s time for radical change, not more ‘meh’ politics

Centrism won’t fix wealth inequality or the climate crisis – so why are progressive politics condescendingly dismissed as unworkable?


US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaking at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. Photograph: Sergio Flores/Reuters

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is an equal-opportunity irritant. The newly elected congresswoman doesn’t just drive Republicans to distraction, she routinely riles establishment Democrats with her refusal to meekly toe the party line. Ocasio-Cortez, to the chagrin of many of her colleagues, has no interest in diluting her views and occupying a “safe” middle ground. If that wasn’t obvious enough already, AOC made her derision for political moderates extremely clear in a speech at South by Southwest on Saturday.

“Moderate is not a stance. It’s just an attitude towards life of, like, ‘meh,’” Ocasio-Cortez told a packed room at the tech-centric festival in Austin, Texas. “We’ve become so cynical, that we view … cynicism as an intellectually superior attitude, and we view ambition as youthful naivety when … the greatest things we have ever accomplished as a society have been ambitious acts of vision. The ‘meh’ is worshipped now. For what?”

On both sides of the Atlantic, the “meh” is worshipped while progressive politics are condescendingly dismissed as unworkable. In Britain, people see Corbynism as an existential threat to Labour; in America, people see the likes of Bernie Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez as an existential threat to the Democratic party. More than ever, it would seem that the greatest enemy of the left isn’t the right, but the centre. MORE

An Illinois bill leans into the most contentious part of the Green New Deal

Illinois is weighing a 100 percent renewable energy bill that includes jobs, equity, and social justice.


Wind turbines tower over crops near Dwight, Illinois. The state is weighing a bill to get to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. Scott Olson/Getty Images

A recurring criticism of the Green New Deal resolution introduced in February by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) is that it has too much social justice baggage: Why does a statement of goals to limit climate change and decarbonize the economy devote so much ink to affordable housing, universal health care, and jobs for everyone?

“They are right that the entire energy sector must be reshaped,” the Washington Post editorial board wrote in a sharp appraisal. “But the goal is so fundamental that policymakers should focus above all else on quickly and efficiently decarbonizing. They should not muddle this aspiration with other social policy, such as creating a federal jobs guarantee, no matter how desirable that policy might be.”

Yet the reason the Green New Deal does include social programs is that, as Vox’s David Roberts put it, “It is not merely a way to reduce emissions, but also to ameliorate the other symptoms and dysfunctions of a late capitalist economy: growing inequality and concentration of power at the top.”

And given that decarbonizing the economy would mean jettisoning fossil fuel jobs, the resolution asserts that the transition needs to happen in a just way, mindful of the needs of “vulnerable, frontline, and deindustrialized communities.” MORE

Change Everything A new podcast from The Leap

Change Everything is a podcast by people who are freaking out about climate, racism, and inequality… and thinking through solutions as big as the crises we face.

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Each month, hosts Maya Menezes and Avi Lewis will dig into a theme related to the intersecting crises of climate, racism and inequality, with the help of guests from movements across Canada and around the world.

They’ll discuss politics and policy, social movements and social change, and how they fit together. It’s time to change everything. So join us, subscribe to the podcast, and tell us what you think.

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