Exclusive: Students issue an open letter ahead of the global day of action on March 15, when youth are expected to strike in 50 nations.
Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg speaks out at four school strikes in one week: video
Students who are in schools around the world to demand action against climate change have issued an open letter with no commitments that says: "We are going to change the destiny of humanity, whether we like it or not."
The letter, published by The Guardian, reads: “United, we will rise up on March 15 and many times until we see climate justice. We demand that the decision makers of the world take responsibility and solve this crisis. They have failed us in the past. [But] the youth of this world have begun to move and we will not rest again ”.
The Youth Strikes for Climate movement is not centrally organized, making it difficult to keep track of the growing number of strikes, but many are registering on FridaysForFuture.org. So far, there are nearly 500 events listed to take place on March 15 in 51 countries, making it the biggest strike day yet. Students plan to jump to school in Western Europe, from the US to Brazil and Chile, and from Australia to Iran, India and Japan.
“For people under 18 years of age in most countries, the only democratic right we have is this. We have no representation, "said Jonas Kampus, a 17-year-old student activist from Zurich, Switzerland. "Studying for a future that will not exist does not make sense."
Young environmental activist Jonas Kampus, from Zurich Switzerland
The letter reads: “We are the voiceless future of humanity… We will not accept a life with fear and devastation. We have the right to live our hopes and dreams. " Kampus helped initiate the letter, which was created collectively through a global coordination group of around 150 students, including the world's first youth weather striker, Greta Thunberg from Sweden.
The strikes have drawn some criticism and Kampus said: "We wanted to define for ourselves why we are attacking." Another member of the coordinating group, Anna Taylor, 17, from North London, UK, said: “The importance of the letter is that it shows that this is an international movement.
Taylor said: “The rapid growth of the movement is showing how important it is and how much it matters to young people. It is vital for our future. " Janine O'Keefe of FridaysForFuture.org said: “I will be very happy with over 100,000 students on strike on March 15th. But I think we could reach more than 500,000 students. "
Thunberg, who is now 16 years old and started the strikes with a solo protest that started last August, is currently on vacation from school. He was one of nearly 3,000 student protesters in Antwerp, Belgium, on Thursday, and joined the protesters in Hamburg on Friday morning.
In recent days, he has harshly rejected criticism of the strikes by education authorities, telling the Hong Kong Office of Education: “We are fighting for our future. It doesn't help if we also have to fight adults. " He also told a critical Australian state education minister that his words "belong in a museum."
The strikes were supported by Christiana Figueres, the UN climate chief when the Paris agreement to combat global warming was signed in 2015. She said: “It is time to heed the deeply moving voice of young people. The Paris Agreement was a step in the right direction, but its timely implementation is key. " Michael Liebreich, a clean energy expert, said: "Anyone who thinks [the strikes] will disappear at any moment will soon see what they will be."
In the UK, Taylor said that more than 10,000 students went on strike on February 15: "I am anticipating at least double for March 15."
The strikes won't end, Taylor said, until “protecting the environment is seen as the top priority of politicians, above all else. Young people are cooperating now, but governments are not cooperating as much as they should ”. She said that students contacted her from new countries every day, including Estonia, Iceland and Uganda in recent days.
Kampus, who was invited to meet with Swiss Environment Minister Simonetta Sommaruga on Wednesday, said: “The strikes will stop when there is a clear description from politicians on how to solve this crisis and a way to get there. It could be doing so many other things. But I don't have time as we have to resolve this crisis. My dream is to have a peaceful life ”.
By Damian Carrington
Original article (in English)