Looking back over the last year, the scale of student climate strikes seems to only be growing. A call from many of these young people is “Adults. Use your power!”
Young people are striking for their future. For political change that will put sustainability at the centre. Over the past year, millions of young people across the globe have participated in the #Fridaysforfuture school strikes. Protesting outside town halls and parliaments during school time, and making clear that the ‘business as usual’ approach regarding fossil fuel use and environmental degradation cannot continue.
However, this fight is not for young people alone. This autumn, young people are calling on adults to stand alongside them as allies in a global ‘Strike for the Climate’ on the 20th and 27th of September, along with a week of climate action. People in 150 countries have already signed up to get involved.
The Strike for the Climate campaign is encouraging adults and young people to work together in striking and raising awareness for the climate. But the campaign also recognises the complexity that such a strike poses for many people, with the organisers stating:
“Workers’ rights and labour laws vary hugely around the world, and not everyone can work, strike or be part of a union. On a grossly unequal planet, some of us can’t do without a single day’s pay, and some of us work for bosses who would fire us if we dared try.
And some jobs simply can’t stop: emergency room doctors should keep on saving lives. But many of us can put off for 24 hours our usual work, confident it will be there when we return.
The strike called by youth on September 20 will kick start a week of climate action with many different plans underway in different parts of the world allowing adults to join together, step up and take action for our climate.”
So this leaves the question: what can individuals and churches do to be an ally to striking young people and support them, even if they cannot strike themselves?
Both #Fridaysforfuture and the September Strikes for the Climate are putting focus on the need for a new approach to the climate emergency, that is centred on human rights, equity and justice. There are many ways this can be achieved, striking among them, but there are other ways you can get involved as an individual, church, community or local organisation, to take a stand for the climate and support young people from around the world.
What can the church can do?
The church is a truly intergenerational space. We share in community with those of all ages, and all walks of life. Could you work to make space for your young people to speak and out and educate the adults in congregations as to why they feel passionately about the climate emergency?
To recognise the importance of their voices, maybe we need to step off the platform and offer young people our space. How could you be an ally by promoting, encouraging and championing the voices of young people to policy makers and society leaders? This can be especially powerful if you cannot strike yourself, but wish to stand alongside those that are.
- Could you use your social media platform to share stories of young people you know?
- Could you write to your MP, championing the work of young people in your area?
- Could you find out more about local youth projects taking place in your area, and find out ways you could offer support?
- Could you invite school strikers to speak at your next church service, and tell their story?
If you are an adult who can attend a strike:
- Remember to amplify the voices of young people and their stories, but do not dominate the conversation. It is the role of adults to act as allies and give up space for young people, not to take over the event or situation.
- Reach out to your local media and newspaper. Ask them to cover the Climate Strike.
- Make it clear that you are striking because you are standing with students, and answering their call for action.
If you are an adult who cannot strike:
Striking in solidarity with your young people is an amazing thing to do. However, for the many adults who do not have the ability to strike there are many other things you can do to support the cause and raise awareness of the climate emergency:
- If possible, start a conversation with your employer outlining why the climate emergency is important, and has an impact on the way we work. Perhaps you could work with your employer to arrange a climate training day.
- Tell your friends and family and spread the word. There are spaces where young people cannot easily access to spread the message. You may have the ability to access such spaces and inform others about the climate emergency and why they should strike.
- Use social media to spread the word and why it matters. Use the words and stories of young people. We all have networks, both off and online, use these to increase awareness of the issue.
If you are a young person:
Let your voice be heard! Share your reflections about the climate crisis with your church and community. Tell people why you are striking and why they should to. You could even take a look at getting involved with national movements, for example the UK Student Climate Network.
If you are getting involved with the London Strikes on Friday, join us and friends at the Christian Aid Collective before for a prayer breakfast! You can find out more here.
All are welcome for a time of reflection, placard making and sharing food before an important day.
More useful links:
– Use the climate resistance handbook to learn more: https://trainings.350.org/climate-resistance-handbook/
– Click here to find out more on how you can help support your young people: https://globalclimatestrike.net/how-to-stand-with-young-climate-strikers/