Mass mobilisation demanding change for climate

By Fiona Stephenson

Mass mobilisation demanding change for climate - what you need to know.

What’s happening worldwide:

On Friday, millions of people around the globe united across cultures and time zones – to demand urgent action on climate change. Inspired by the young activist Greta Thunberg, people across the globe – from the Pacific Islands to Australia, from Asia to America, from Europe to Africa – took to the streets to take part in the biggest climate protest in history. Greta told thousands of school strikers in New York “We are not just some young people skipping school… We are a wave of change. Together, we are unstoppable.”

Greta started the Schools 4 Climate Action Group last year and, according to The Guardian, as a result of the movement an estimated 185 countries took part in strike action on Friday. Each country has their own concerns: rising sea levels in the Solomon Islands, air pollution and plastic waste in India, coal mining in Australia. But all are united in their message – that world leaders take meaningful action to cut emissions and stabilise the climate. The strikes were orchestrated to take place on the eve of the UN Climate Summit in New York on Saturday, called by the Secretary General to inject urgency into government action to restrict the rise in global temperatures to 1.5C, as agreed under the 2015 Paris agreement. This weekend, the World Meteorological Organisation reported that the global average temperature has already increased by 1.1°C since the pre-industrial period.

For the first time since School Strike 4 Climate began last year, young people are calling on adults to respond. As a result, media outlets have reported that trade unions representing hundreds of millions of people left their places of work to support the strike. Companies like Ben & Jerry’s, Patagonia, Lush Cosmetics, Burton and Soda Stream closed their doors on Friday, along with over 1,500 workers from Amazon and a reported 900 employees from Google and Facebook who walked out in support.

What’s happening in NZ:

This Friday 27 September, School Strike 4 Climate will be hosting an inter-generational strike, and many organisations are getting on board. SBN member Commonsense will be closing its doors to show support – you can read about their ‘why’ here. The Bay of Plenty Regional Council is getting behind the movement and will put on free buses for strikers. Universities around the country have agreed to recognise the rights of students to attend.

Meanwhile the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) has launched a campaign called Gen Less to encourage people and organisations to use less energy to help halt climate change.

What SBN is doing:

SBN will be closing its doors on Friday to demand action and show support to young people and members of the businesses community who are also striking. Climate change affects all of us and we need everyone – world leaders, businesses, schools, neighbours, people of all ages – to realise they play a part in trying to retain Earth as an inhabitable planet.

What you can do:

  1. Join in. There are strikes happening all across the country, so find one and join in! Locations and times are available on the School Strike 4 Climate website here.
  2. Encourage your workmates, managers and friends to join in – it might surprise you to see how many others are interested in supporting. Check out the list of NZ businesses closing their doors for the strike on ‘This is not business as usual‘ and add yours to the list.
  3. If you can’t afford to take the day off and your employer isn’t closing its doors – you can still support by attending a strike near you for a half hour during your lunch break.
  4. You can show your support by sharing information on your social media pages.
  5. Check out Future Fit and find out the impact of your lifestyle on our climate and how your everyday actions can make a difference.
  6. Become part of Gen Less and change your lifestyle to use less energy, to help halt climate change.
  7. The local elections are coming up. Make sure you know where local candidates stand on climate change. The Spinoff has prepared a useful resource here.