BAYONNE: On Friday, a few days before the UN Climate Action Summit in New York, a global climate strike will be organized to disrupt business in order to show politicians that it is time for a change.
According to the global climate strike website, on this day, students from more than 150 countries including at least 7 Arab countries will take part in this global movement. Various climate strikes are scheduled at noon local timing in various Arab cities including Djibouti city, Tunis city, Marrakesh, Kenitra, Sidi Bel Abbès, Alexandria, Cairo, Suez, Abu Dhabi, and Beirut.
Moreover, around 10 young activists have gathered themselves to form the “Youth for Climate Lebanon” network. In an interview with one of the activists, she highlighted that this network is a non-violent Lebanese movement who organizes climate-related activities and strikes despite having limited funds. She explained that members of this network communicate with one another via a group chat to discuss how, when and where they should march. In parallel, Youth for Climate Lebanon is organizing a banner workshop at 09:00 am where people can design their own banners and then march from Horsh Beirut to Martyrs Square at 11:00 am.
Greta Thunberg, the Swedish sixteen years old climate activist, arrived in New York on the 28th of August 2019 to attend the United Nations General Assembly, an annual event bringing together world leaders to address various serious challenges facing us today. Thunberg sailed for two weeks across the Atlantic on an emissions-free racing boat (the Malizia II) to reach New York. Her choice of transportation mode came as a refusal to fly to the United States given that air travel has a significant carbon footprint, “I want to practice as I preach” she explains. Two days after her arrival, around one thousand protestors joined the Swedish young climate activist and gathered outside the UN building in Manhattan. The atmosphere was rather earnest as campaigners asked for a “system change, not climate change” and invited youth and adults from all over the world to join climate strikes on the 20th and the 27th of September.
Thunberg became the figurehead of a growing climate activist movement which started with her weekly protests known as the “skolstrejk för klimatet” (school strike for the climate. In 2018, she protested by sitting outside the Riksdag, the Swedish legislature and the supreme decision-making body to urge the government to take appropriate measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Her demonstrations attracted the attention of various media outlets and inspired student in several cities across the globe who then engaged in similar protests, known by “Fridays for Future”.
Another global climate strike is scheduled on the 27th of September to mobilize a larger number of people. “These dates in September are only a beginning to the sustained mass mobilization that will be needed to pressure world governments to take action in line with climate science and justice” highlights the official website. Millions of people are expected to walk the streets to urge world leaders to take to develop and implement appropriate measures. The Youth for Climate Lebanon is organizing another strike on the 27th, information about this event will be released on social media platforms including Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
“It is such an urgent problem and it is affecting people living now, we want to stop this from happening and to make sure that we have a safe future” states Thunberg who believes that everyone should be involved in climate strikes in September, “…we need everyone, adults and children, no matter who they are or where they are from”. Greta emphasizes the importance of adults’ participation in the climate protest in September and invites them to strike from their work “it is very important that we are asking for help from the adults, we actually need them to do this with us”.
In an interview with an expert on environmental policies and climate governance, she asserted that the movement initiated by Thunberg is proof that even one person could make a difference and that everyone has a role to play in the governance of climate change. The expert believes that in order to tackle the multi-scalar and multi-sectorial issue of climate change, all actors should come together including political leaders, citizens, organizations, businesses and actors in the private sector. She adds, “in this case, we speak about bottom-up governance to climate change, where local events or actors have the ability to influence and stimulate decision making at ‘higher’ levels”. The expert asserts that everyone is impacted by climate change, therefore the responsibility to take action is shared. “Some sectors may be more impacted than others but no one is exempted.” She explains that climate actions start with individuals “We can’t sit at home, do nothing and expect politicians and world leaders to take appropriate actions; we could start by shifting our unsustainable consumption patterns and taking part in climate marches to make that change happen!”
Reem Khamis graduated from the Lebanese American University with a Bachelor Degree in Architecture and got her Master's Degree in Environmental and Energy Management from the University of Twente in the Netherlands. Her thesis focuses on urban resilience and climate change adaptation in megacities using a comparative approach of Cairo, London, and New York. Khamis is currently doing her Ph.D. in Environmental and Energy Solutions at the University of Pau and Pays de L'Adour in France.
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