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Fri, 24 Jan 2020

Northeast Today

Greta Thunberg : A new generation awakens

Greta Thunberg : A new generation awakens
December 09
15:21 2019

Recently, the world has witnessed the largest environmental protest ever in more than 150 countries. Teenage activist, Greta Thunberg who pioneered the Fridays for Future school climate strikes in August last year has since then grown around the world. Mumeninaz Zaman reports.


The UN Climate Action Summit, 2019 held on 23rd September was marked by the convergence of world leaders from almost 70 countries who have promised revolutionary changes by announcing emission cuts and other measures to fight climate change. Prior to the summit, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, hosted the Youth Climate Action Summit. The Youth Summit brought together youth climate champions from different countries and territories to a platform to share their solutions on the global stage, and deliver a clear message to world leaders: we need to act now to address climate change.

The commitments from some of the big emitters fell short of reaching on Climate Change’s target of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius or ideally 1.5 degrees. This led to the disappointment of the climate activists, including Thunberg who lashed out to world leaders during her speech at the Summit, she said, “I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you! You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.”

Who is Greta Thunberg?

Holding a placard which reads “SKOLSTREJK FÖR KLIMATET” (“school strike for the climate”), Thunberg started her initiative on 20 August 2018. The rising heat waves and wildfires in Sweden has instigated the teenager to skip her school and stage a solo protest outside the Swedish parliament. Her message to those in power was to reduce carbon emissions as per the Paris Agreement, 2016 which deals with greenhouse-gas-emissions mitigation, adaptation, and finance. Henceforth she started skipping her school and continued to strike every Friday until Sweden aligns with the Paris Agreement. Inspired by her slogan #FridaysForFuture, school children from around the world rise to the occasion which marked a new era in climate action.

Thunberg herself adopted certain lifestyle habits to reduce carbon footprints, this includes giving up air travel and not eating meat. Of late her call to action was voyaging thousands of miles across the Atlantic Ocean to reach the United States to attend the Climate Summit in September. It took her two weeks to reach New York, without producing any carbon.

The Metamorphosis

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which consists of a group of 1,300 independent scientific experts from countries all over the world under the auspices of the United Nations, informed- there is a more than 95 percent probability that human activities have warmed our planet. Human-produced greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have caused much of the observed increase in Earth’s temperatures over the past 50 years.

The evidence comes from direct measurements of rising surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures and from phenomena such as increases in average global sea levels, retreating glaciers, shrinking ice sheets, decreased snow cover, ocean acidification and changes to many physical and biological systems.

The “Big Talks”

The nations which have signed the Paris Agreement in 2015 are struggling to meet the targets and green house gas emissions are continuing to rise. Out of 195 nations only 65 countries have indicated that they intend to meet the climate goals.

The US president already pulled out of the Agreement stating that it would undermine the U.S. economy. Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro was criticized for opening up the Amazon forests, for mining and industrial expansion to promote gross domestic product (GDP). Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has assured of increasing the target of renewable energy mix to a goal of 450 gigawatts. However, his commitments did not raise India’s official carbon emission reduction targets. On the other hand China declined to put forward any new measures to tackle the climate crisis.

As climate activists were expecting that the Summit would usher in a new era in climate action, they were rather left disappointed by the world leaders. Thunberg said, “The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us I say we will never forgive you,”

The reverse deal

Even though the outcome was not convincing, the young brigade around the world are adamant that things need to be changed. Sixteen climate change activists from around the world have filed a lawsuit against five countries with the United Nation’s Third Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Apart from Greta Thunberg the main petitioners are American activist and Earth Uprising founder Alexandria Villaseñor.

The other petitioners, who are aged between 8-17, that are part of the lawsuit include Chiara Sacchi from Argentina, Catarina Lorenzo from Brazil, Iris Duquesne from France, Raina Ivanova from Germany, Ridhima Pandey from India, David Ackley III, Ranton Anjain and Litokne Kabua from Marshall Islands, Deborah Adegbile from Nigeria, Carlos Manuel from Palau, Ayakha Melithafa from South Africa, Ellen-Anne from Sweden, Raslen Jbeili from Tunisia and Carl Smith from the USA.

The lawsuit is filed against five countries- Germany, France, Brazil, Argentina, and Turkey.


The earth have not reached the appocalypse but we are still losing the race. Hence it becomes important here, to act before the sand slips from the hand. Of late there has been a change in the momentum and this change is the upcoming generation who are worried about the planet and are steadfast to act and not just talk. Thunberg further made it clear that the young people around the world will continue to hold their governments accountable.

Climate change is already affecting the lives of people, but for the 1.8 billion young people between the ages of 10 and 24 years, the issue is felt with far more urgency as it will shape their lives in ways never witnessed before.



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