The effects of 16-year-old Greta Thunberg’s tenacity, intent and commitment to combat climate change and her ability to appeal to thousands of citizens to do the same could be seen this week throughout the world.
The Fridays for Future Movement
The Climate Strike or Fridays for Future Movement as it is also called was started by the Swedish Thunberg last year is a movement wherein school students actively take time off from class to protest and participate in demonstrations, aiming to bring the conversation of climate change into the limelight and appealing to the concerned authorities to take necessary action.
It started when Thunberg protested for 3 weeks outside the Swedish Parliament, protesting against the lack of action taken by the concerned legislators when it comes to climate change.
Subsequently, Greta Thunberg decided to continue striking every Friday until the Swedish policies were formulated to comply with the Paris Agreement.
Since then, what started as a small movement has spread across the globe like wildfire, with Greta Thunberg becoming the face of the movement that aims to prevent further global warming and climate change.
With the UN Climate Summit scheduled from 21st – 23rd Septemeber 2019 in the United States, several protests were held around the world as a mark of solidarity.
The city of Mumbai was no different, with the Climate Strike Protest happening in Shivaji Statue, Juhu on 20th Septemeber at 5 pm.
While the day of the protest was met with intermittent rain, that did not dampen the mood of the protesters, with as many as a 100 people braving the weather and participating in the protest. It included school children, environmental activists, climate change researchers as well as media personalities. Amongst the protestors was also singer, Anushka Manchanda, lending her support to the movement. The protest was organized in the city by Jhatkaa.org, a citizen action group that led the protest in multiple cities.
The event started with the members of the organizing committee thanking everyone that was present while at the same time conveying the gravity of the situation. The world is consistently failing the climate change targets it sets for itself, the citizens continue to turn a blind eye to the environmental changes that happen around us while governments and decision making bodies conveniently sit back and refuse to take action against the problem.
With chants of “We want climate justice” and “Climate Strike Now” ringing throughout the protest, it was actively participated in by all those who were present. Many people could be seen silently protesting with placards, signages and banners, while others chose to show their support by getting on stage and sharing their views with all those who had gathered. Anushka Manchanda even enthralled them with songs, keeping the mood light while at the same time appealing to the protestor to do their best to save the earth.
The protest involved healthy discussion and debate on the topic, with people speaking freely on why they were there, what did climate change mean to them and how did they plan on saving the environment. Many interesting points and arguments were put across by people from all ages and backgrounds, whether that be school children, working professionals, or activists.
Anne Johnson, a 32-year-old US Citizen working in the city with an organization studying climate change, was present at the protest with her 3-month-old baby. She talked about the importance of saving the climate and the role of a densely populated country like India can play in the same.
“ Mumbai is one of the most vulnerable cities to climate change since it is right at the coast. Therefore, it becomes even more important that we all collectively contribute towards protecting the environment. I accept that I come from a privileged background and I can simply go back to my home country if times here get tough. But I also know that there are a lot of people in this country that don’t have that privilege, and those people run the threat of having their homes, livelihoods and families destroyed due to climate change. So let’s do something for them and strive towards a planet wherein my 3-month-old child can live in, happily and safely”
Another protestor said “ We live in a pseudo world. We protest about climate change and say that we care about it. We post online in solidarity and take out the time to change our statuses for a day, but in reality, we don’t want to do anything for the cause. Even here, look at so many people with plastic banners and pamphlets that are non-biodegradable. I, myself have been guilty of ignoring the needs of the environment for my own benefit. So today, I promise I’ll stop doing that and do each little thing to make sure I reduce my carbon footprint. If each person gathered here can pledge to do the same, we can make a positive difference”
The protest ended with the distribution of pollution masks to everyone that was part of it, culminating in the hope for a time when the relevant authorities will take the issue of climate change seriously and develop policies to combat it. With another protest scheduled for 27th September, the movement seems to be gathering steam, and that can only be a good thing for the planet!