As it does every year, the world’s business elite gathered in Davos Switzerland in January for the World Economic Forum, and as it does every year, the WEF released its Global Risks Report , reflecting what business opinion leaders lose sleep about. In 2019, the top long-term risks identified as the gravest threats to the world were extreme weather and climate-change policy failures. Blogs and reports were produced on the theme, including “How should corporate boards respond to climate change?” , and “Infrastructure around the world is failing. Here’s how to make it more resilient” . British celebrity David Attenborough addressed the group, telling them that “the Garden of Eden is no more” – but the real call to action came from 16-year old Greta Thunberg, the Swedish activist who has inspired world-wide climate strikes by teenagers. Her appearance was reported in The Guardian, and re-posted at the National Observer as “Teenage activist takes School Strikes 4 Climate Action to Davos” (Jan. 25). “The Climate Kids are Coming” in The Nation (Jan. 28), describes Greta’s Davos appearance and links the climate strikes movement to the Green New Deal movement in the U.S.
Our House is on Fire: The transcript and video of her speech, “Our house is on fire”, is now widely available – on Youtube , in another article in The Guardian (with a transcript) , and on her own Twitter feed, @GretaThunberg . The embodiment of speaking truth to power must be from Greta’s speech: “Some people, some companies, some decision makers in particular have known exactly what priceless values they have been sacrificing to continue making unimaginable amounts of money. ….. I think many of you here today belong to that group of people.” And then: … “Here in Davos – just like everywhere else – everyone is talking about money. It seems money and growth are our only main concerns….We all have a choice. We can create transformational action that will safeguard the living conditions for future generations. Or we can continue with our business as usual and fail….. No other current challenge can match the importance of establishing a wide, public awareness and understanding of our rapidly disappearing carbon budget, that should and must become our new global currency and the very heart of our future and present economics……We must change almost everything in our current societies. The bigger your carbon footprint, the bigger your moral duty. ”
In Canada, there are now 12 cities in which kids have been inspired by Greta to stage climate strikes – the latest being Extinction Rebellion Alberta in Edmonton, which organized a climate strike at the provincial legislature on February 1. TO Climate Strike organized a protest at Queen’s Park on February 1, organized deputations to the City Council Budget discussions, and is organizing a networking event on March 1 at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto, to gather together the many climate activist groups in Toronto. The Climate Pledge Collective reports on Toronto student activism, and is currently organizing a political campaign to press Toronto to declare a climate emergency, as Vancouver has done , followed by the cities of Victoria and Halifax. The Montreal Gazette has reported that Quebec post-secondary students will strike across the province on March 15 and September 27. According to Sophia Mathur, Sudbury’s next strike will be held on March 1 at Laurentian University, with “Canada’s next big strike” being organized for May 3. All the activity will be easier to follow when a new Canadian Twitter feed goes live on March 1: Fridays for Future Canada.
Around the World: Every week, Greta Thunberg compiles and posts news of the school strikes that have happened anywhere in the world in the past week. Her post on February 10 features photos from dozens of cities throughout the U.K. and Europe, and including New York, Seattle, and in Uganda, Nigeria, and the Faroe Islands! In the week of January 21, as reported by The Guardian , 30,000 students from 50 cities in Germany protested; 12,500 in Belgium, and more than 20,000 in Switzerland. Previously, the largest national student-led climate strike had been on November 30th in Australia , when estimated 15,000 students protested.
The first nationwide strike in the U.K. is planned for February 15 – The Guardian is anticipating the action here,with the National Association of Head Teachers in support, according to a Daily Mail report.
This movement is growing and acting so fast that social media is the best source of information : for example, Global Climate Strike Facebook page; School Strikes 4 Climate Twitter feed; The Kids are Alright blog ; @Fridays for Future on Twitter; and The Citizens Climate Lobby, which maintains an interactive map of protests around the world.