Will This 16-Year-Old Climate Change Activist Get Countries To Meet The Paris Agreement?

March 8, 2019

Today (March 8th) is International Women’s Day and I’m celebrating the unwavering courage of Swedish 16-year old environmental activist, Greta Thunberg, as the week countdown to the Youth Strikes for Climate movement commences. Her actions have spoken louder than words (though she has articulated those well, too) and I feel a profound sense of respect for her dedication as well as the media sources giving her the attention that’s quite rightly due. May she continue to inspire the next generation with her commitment to the cause, showing them that one person truly can make a difference.

The first time I actively got involved with any kind of event for International Women’s Day was during my time as an undergraduate way back when. I was involved in a few projects as part of the Amnesty International society, raising awareness about domestic abuse and general violence against women. It was an important cause, of course, but it’s also nice to focus on strong women doing their thing – not just wrongdoings against a gender. I very much see this day as a celebration and I hope you’ll join me.

There are a million and one causes worth fighting for, of course, but one that takes absolute first place in my opinion has got to be the fight for the future of our planet; of life as we know it. Without a habitat in which to live and breathe, all else is rendered obsolete, don’t you think? And so in 2019, at this very pivotal time when we have the collective choice to actually do something to halt the ever-so-unfortunate trajectory we find ourselves on, I encourage all the spotlights to be thrown on those like Thunberg fighting the good fight.

For those of you unfamiliar, Greta Thunberg is a young political activist who rose to prominence after starting the first school strike for the climate outside parliament in Sweden. Frowned upon by many teachers, Thunberg would ditch classes every Friday and set up camp outside parliament, campaigning for the governments of the world to take real, concrete actions to halt climate change and abide by the Paris Agreement.

She recalls first learning about climate change at the age of 8 (8 years ago) and being perplexed as to why it wasn’t being discussed on the political stage. Why weren’t the leaders of the world understanding the urgency and trying to find solutions? Finally, fed up of feeling helpless, she did the only thing she knew might make a difference and show those around her that she meant serious business: she went on strike.

What started as one young woman outside Swedish parliament has inspired a global movement. In November of 2018, Australia, at the opposite end of the earth, was the first country to jump on board. Thousands of children across the land down under left their backpacks at the door and proudly marched the streets, inspired by Thunberg. Despite Prime Minister Scott Morrison telling them that they should be “less activist” and stay in school, they built momentum and inspired several other strikes across the globe in their wake.

The biggest is yet to come, though. March 15th will see students from over 50 nations standing up for the futures that their adults are doing nothing to protect for them. Unhappy with the snail pace of decision makers and hyper aware of the direct impact doing nothing will have on their adult life, children are sacrificing time spent getting an education and instead campaigning for their basic right to have a future. You’ve got to ask how this is fair, really. The adults are supposed to be the responsible ones, right? The ones doing the protecting? However, it’s the youth who are the true driving force behind this campaign for change.

Over 500 different events are registered on FridaysForFuture.org for March 15th and this is only likely to increase further as Thunberg’s influence continues to spread like wildfire across the social medias and things. Not to mention, her recent interview with powerhouse Rolling Stone (!)

Doing something about climate change isn’t simply a nice ide, a good deed, or something to give some thought to on a rainy day. It’s a global crisis that threatens the very foundation of our planet. But real change must come from the top down, by way of implementing a whole new way of doing things. The infrastructure to exist in such a way that doesn’t continue to use fossil fuels, tear our trees out the ground at alarming rates and the like must be supported and rolled out by our leaders. In the meantime though, shout with all your might. Tell said leaders that you want change and stop at nothing until the headlines tell you it’s happening.

Which young women are you most inspired by this International Women’s Day?

Also by Kat: California Wildfires Weren’t Caused By Bad Forest Management. What You Should Know

Related: These 3 Vegan Feminists Will Inspire You On International Women’s Day, Because Intersectionality

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Photos: Greta Thunberg via Instagram


Kat Kennedy is an Arizona-based physiology doctoral student and holistic health advocate writing about science, health, and her experiences as a third culture kid and global nomad. She's @sphynxkennedy everywhere.


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