At a total of over 7 million and still counting, the week of Global Climate Strikes is on par with the 2003 anti-Iraq war protest as one of the largest coordinated global protests in History. From September 20th to 27th, millions of students, parents, trade unions, businesses, health workers, scientists, celebrities, people of all backgrounds, ages, regions and faiths came together in all corners of the globe calling for climate action. More than 6,100 events were held in 185 countries, with the support of 73 Trade Unions, 820 civil society organizations, 3,000 companies and 8,500 websites.
After the global mobilisation on Friday September 20 appeared on front pages around the world, escalating actions throughout the week culminated with a second global day of action this Friday September 27. The day kicked off in New Zealand, where organisers estimate that 170,000 (3.5% of its population) took part.
Throughout the week: From 20th to 27th of September, 1.4 million people took to the streets in Germany, over 1 million in Italy, over 800,000 in Canada, over 500,000 in the United States, 350,000 in Australia and another 350,000 in the United Kingdom, 195,000 in France, 170,000 in New Zealand, 150,000 in Austria, 50,000 in Ireland, 70,000 in Sweden, 42,000 in the Netherlands, 20,000 in Brazil, 21,000 in Finland, 15,000 in Peru, 13,000 in Mexico, 13,000 in India, 10,000 in Denmark, 10,000 in Turkey, 10,000 in Pakistan, 6,000 in Hungry, 5,000 in South Korea, 5,000 in Japan, 5,000 in South Africa, more more than 100,000 in Chile, 10,000 in Argentina, 3,000 in the Pacific, 2,000 in Singapore and much more, since many locations are still striking and the final count is not yet confirmed.
Strikers demand a complete phase-out of fossil fuels, the end of burning and deforestation in the Amazon rainforest and Indonesia, and an immediate transition towards just and equitable 100% renewable energy. Celebrities such as Gisele Bündchen, Leonardo DiCaprio, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, Willow and Jaden Smith, Chris Hemsworth, Alysia Reiner, Maggie Gyllenhaal and David Gilmour have supported the movement through their social media.
“We strike because we believe there is no Planet B and that we should do everything in our power to stop this crisis. Otherwise my dreams of having a happy future will be taken away from me as well as all the other kids all over the world,” said Atlas Sarrafoğlu, organizer from Fridays for Future Turkey.
The so-called climate week surrounded the UN summit and connected events, which gathered political leaders in New York City in an attempt to discuss emergency actions to confront the climate crisis. While young climate activists were giving powerful speeches to the authorities, only a few meters away major multinational oil company CEOs were meeting with government representatives and diplomats in another lobbying effort to shape and influence climate policy.
“This week was a demonstration of the power of our movement. People power is more powerful than the people in power. It was the biggest ever climate mobilization, and it’s only the beginning. The momentum is on our side and we are not going anywhere,” said Fridays For Future International.
The next years are crucial to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, and that means drastically cutting global emissions of greenhouse gases. But while the planet heats up and entire communities lose their lives and livelihoods, the big fossil fuel companies keep profiting from coal, oil and gas. On September 23rd, 350.org and partners unfurled a giant banner reading “ExxonKnew: Make Them Pay” outside the summit, to expose the responsibility of big companies fueling the crisis.
“The path forward is clear: stopping all subsidies and end funding to the fossil fuel industry. Anything short of this would mean betraying once again the millions that have gone on strike for the climate this week. To fossil executives and those in power, we say: ‘How dare you!’ You knew, you lied and we will make you pay for the crisis you have created.” – May Boeve
Over the next 12 months, a series of escalated actions are being planned in different regions of the globe to continue to exert pressure on governments. Joel Enrique Panichine, organiser from Fridays for Future Chile, the country that will host the next UN Climate Summit in December (COP 25), said the movement in Latin America won’t stop until the world leaders hear them and concretely start phasing out fossil fuels.
“Today in Chile we marched from Arica to Punta Arenas, where people of all ages, organizations and institutions gave their voice, a voice that bravely rises to ask politicians of the world for no more double speeches and more actions that seek the ‘good living’, or as they say in my community, the küme mongen.” Joel self-identifies as part of the Mapuche people and says that fighting for the climate also means honouring the values of all indigenous peoples and traditional communities around the world.