The 24 September global youth climate strike has the potential to help reboot the climate movement. It has been called by “Fridays for Future”, the international organisation most closely associated with the wave of youth climate strikes initiated by Greta Thunberg in Sweden in 2018.
Dubbed #UprootTheSystem, the call-out for this climate strike is openly left-wing and internationalist. #FridaysForFuture (FFF) are not deeply democratic, and assessing the turnout later this month is difficult.
During the pre-pandemic waves of climate strikes, there was deeper democracy in the UK. UK Student Climate Network, synonymous with Youth Strike 4 Climate, organised nationally, with real links to many local organisers. Unfortunately, it has now become dormant.
FFF have a map of upcoming actions (bit.ly/fff-map), with several red pins for strikes on 24 September in the UK — with links, locations, and times. There are others organising locally which haven’t yet been registered. Some may be found on social media, others may be more under the radar.
In many places, people who organised and participated in previous climate strikes as school students will be joining these ones. Those who were in year nine in September 2019 will be in their last year before sixth-form college; those in year eleven back then, will be in their final year of school or college now. Others will have finished school, many going to university soon.
To build again in earnest, the climate strikes will need to bring in new layers of young people. The basis for such a movement exists. A survey of 16-25 year olds across ten countries, published this month, found that “[r]espondents were worried about climate change (59% very or extremely worried, 84% at least moderately worried)... Respondents rated the governmental response to climate change negatively and reported greater feelings of betrayal than of reassurance.”
A study this summer which found that 67% of young people want “socialism”. A summer of fires and floods, and the IPCC’s latest “red code for humanity” report, will only intensify strength of feelings.
It is down to climate activists, and socialist environmentalists in particular, to turn take that justified worry and anger, and turn that sense of powerlessness into a sense of agency and empowerment — and a drive to organise to change the world.
We urge activists to book the day off work, to join the climate strike, to take our environmental publications and petition to expropriate the banks. If you can find out who is organising, get in touch beforehand to offer support. Two years ago, some workplace activists took delegations of workers down to the climate strikes, or did other actions on the day, such as stalls. Despite on-paper policy by unions, this only happened when local activists took their own initiative.
One focal point for the climate strikes, internationally and especially in the UK, is COP26 coming up in Glasgow in November. Hosted by a government which has been meeting fossil fuel and (currently no less damaging) biomass “operatives” nine times as many times as it met its renewable energy counterparts, the climate conference looks set to, once again, offer little beyond greenwash and disappointment.
The conference, and its inadequacy, is focussing attention on climate crises. Activists are mobilising for it: for a “Workers’ Mobilisation Day” on Friday 5 November, a big demonstration in Glasgow on Saturday 6, and an “alternative summit” in person and online Sunday 7 to Wednesday 10.