In the midst of the current political climate, it can be very easy to lose optimism in regard to solving the global climate emergency. What we mustn’t do in these turbulent times is lose sight of the fantastic work that has been done over the last 18 months to make sure that the climate emergency is the top of everybody’s agenda and ensure we keep up the momentum into 2020.
We mustn’t forget that prior to August 2018, nobody knew who Greta Thunberg was or what a School Climate Strike was. Fast forward to today and every world leader knows the name Greta Thunberg and knows that she, like us, will not rest until they tell the truth about impending ecological disaster and take decisive action to avert catastrophe.
The inspirational work of Greta Thunberg has not only forced world leaders into action, but has also sparked a wave of youth activism, the impact of which will be felt politically for years to come. Across the world, hundreds of thousands of school children have participated in School Climate Strikes since Greta Thunberg stood in solitude outside Swedish Parliament on 20 August 2018. From Angola to Switzerland, Milan to Tokyo and hundreds of more countries, children have been empowered to take decisive action to claim back their futures.
What Greta Thunberg and the School Climate Strikes have done is globally unite a generation, sparking a worldwide revolution which is only just beginning. We now have hundreds of thousands of young people across the globe who are politically engaged, politically active and, most importantly, politically mobilised. This is the next generation of voters, campaigners, law-makers and world leaders and they are born out of this global revolution which will have a positive impact for decades to come.
Across the world we have seen multiple movements rise up in the wake of the global strikes inspired by the young Swedish activist and this alone is cause for optimism. In the UK, we have seen activists such as the brilliant Anna Taylor, Co-Founder of UK Student Climate Network (UKSCN), emerge at the forefront of the climate debate and inspire thousands more children in the UK to rise up and claim back their futures.
Throughout 2019, UKSCN organised awe-inspiring demonstrations across the country, none more striking than the that of 20 September, as tens of thousands of young people gathered outside Parliament and across cities and towns all over the UK in one of the largest scale demonstrations led by young people in modern history.
In this short time, UKSCN has become a respected force in the climate movement, featuring on panels at both the Green Party Conference and the Young Greens Convention in 2019. It is important we remember all that we have achieved in this short time as a reminder that so much more can be done.
It has been widely circulated that Greta Thunberg recently stated the strikes have “achieved nothing”, and whilst this is a largely out of context statement, it is still worth understanding why this was said. It is because of complete inaction by many world leaders, because leaders like Donald Trump pull out of vital climate agreements, because Bolsonaro continues to allow the devastation of the rainforest in Brazil and because ineptitude by leaders like Scott Morrison have led to Australia burning before our eyes. When you look at the inaction from many global leaders, the distant UK carbon neutral target of 2050, and when you see the devastation of our natural habitat, it is easy to say that we have achieved nothing.
However, when you see the millions of people across the globe who have been inspired to take climate action, when you see our next generation of citizens, politicians and world leaders rise up and when you see the impact just one teenager skipping school can make across the whole world, from Stockholm all the way to Kampala, you realise we have achieved so much.
As a Green, the world can seem a very bleak place at the moment, but we must keep in mind that the revolution starts now. We will continue to take to the streets, whether as part of the School Climate Strikes, Extinction Rebellion or as the Green Party, and we will not rest until world leaders commit to taking decisive action to tackle this global climate emergency.
Tyrone Scott is Young Greens Campaigns Officer. Follow him on Twitter @Eco_Ty