Greta Thunberg and the Climate Movement

By: Elenore Breslow AJ Magazine
| Published 12/10/2019


The sense of urgency we need to drive climate action

Driving Climate Action - The Sense of Urgency

‘I don’t want to keep your environmental awards; I want you to keep your promises.’ This phrase basically sums up how Greta Thunberg feels about the praise from the climate work she has been doing. From declining awards such as the Nordic Council’s Environment Award 2019, to telling world leaders ‘you are failing us’. The 16-year-old Swedish environmental activist has become the leader of the present-day climate movement. However, the climate movement has been around for some time. It is considered to have begun in the early 1990s, starting with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The framework was signed by 154 nations, including Canada, whereby these nations committed to reducing anthropogenic influenced greenhouse gas emissions. Yet, for many nations signing the framework did not cause any drastic changes to be made. After Canada signed the framework, the Canadian government continues to handout billions of dollars in fossil fuel subsidies. This begs the question, why has the climate movement not been taken seriously in the past?

Inaction on climate change has caused the youth to strike and fight back for their future. The Global Climate Strike from September 20th-27th had a record turnout of around 7.6 million people! That’s about half of all Ontarians coming out to support climate change, which is the biggest climate mobilisation in history. Youth led climate strikes have created a spark around the globe and have become the foundation for climate action for the future. However, is this enough to encourage governments and policymakers to adopt more radical action to curb climate change? Without government support much of the awareness generated from climate strikes could have minimal effect.

The climate strikes that occurred around the globe have evidently increased public awareness regarding climate change. This evokes people demanding change to protect the future of our planet for our children and grandchildren. We are now starting to hold our global leaders accountable for the climate action needed. In 2017, Canada put forward a Low Carbon Economy Fund (LCEF) published in the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. The LCEF aims to generate clean growth, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and help Canada meet Paris Agreement commitments. And this all sounds impressive and dandy for Canada…Yet, hundreds of thousands of Canadians still came together to strike for our climate during The Global Climate Strike. Why are Canadians, like many others around the globe, suddenly more concerned about climate change?

The reason why Canadians may be so concerned about the current state of the climate could simply come down to one word – urgency. The sense of urgency for climate action, however, needs to continue increasing. Even after implementing the LCEF, a 2 billion dollar plan, we are still one of the largest emitters of CO2equivalent per capita. The mitigation strategies in place are not designed to create change fast enough. What is being done is not enough, and that is why millions of people around the globe came together to fight for our planet. The climate strikes, led by Thunberg, have brought the sense of urgency required to provoke governments and policymakers into creating rapid change for the wellbeing of the planet.

After attending one of the climate strikes in London, Ontario, I understood the power that a strike can have. One of the chants that resonated with me was “SYSTEM CHANGE, NOT CLIMATE CHANGE”. This chant was by far the most said, and it exemplified how people want policy reform. The climate strikes have acted as a catalyst for radical change, and they have begun to take the stigma away from the term “climate change”. Since the climate strikes, people are more determined than ever to focus on the environment. And the people who are interested in saving the planet are no longer just environmentalists; they are mainstream individuals who simply care about the fate of our world.

The climate movement is more dominant than ever, and much of the increase in attention is a direct result of Greta Thunberg. Thunberg has drastically changed the way the public perceives climate change. The public wants climate action! And they want it NOW.

About Elenore Breslow

Elenore is interested in biology, biodiversity and conservation. She's currently working on her Masters of Environment and Sustainability at Western University.

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