Student Life

A Global Movement for Climate Justice

A delegation of students from IHEID took part in the first global climate strike.

By Dario Siegen

The first global climate strike took place on Friday 15 March 2019 as part of the #FridaysForFuture student uprisings. 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg, who has been on strike on Fridays for more than half a year now, called for the globally coordinated demonstrations. In over 100 countries, students went on strike for more climate action, the organizers spoke of around 1.5 million participants. A delegation of students from IHEID took part in the local strike in Geneva.

The first Swiss climate strike took place on 14 December 2018 in Zurich. Since then, the movement has gained enormous momentum and dominated the media agenda for months. Like in the two previous strikes on 18 January and 2 February 2019, thousands of young people were on the streets in Geneva on Friday. The atmosphere was remarkable, and there was an optimistic determination in the air. Increasingly, the public is acknowledging the long-lasting warning signals of science.

Derya 3
Photo by Derya Senol.

This is particularly impressive in Switzerland, where protest culture is anything but pronounced. The grassroot movement is well-networked through digital media and organized in democratic structures. Young activists know the scientific facts strikingly well and appear competently in the media. The movement addresses the following three demands to politicians: a declaration of a national climate emergency, net zero domestic greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and climate justice. The students do not shy away from bold action and demands: if these demands cannot be met in the current system, a system change is needed.

Generational issues are very relevant in the climate debate – the students who go out on the streets are fighting for their future. They will be much more affected by the consequences of climate change than older generations. Nevertheless, support and willingness to change are needed from all age groups.

The next Swiss climate strike will take place on Saturday, 6 April 2019. Climate change is a threat of unprecedented proportions – it threatens countless realms of life and has a devastating potential to exacerbate global inequality and injustice. However, it’s not too late to turn the tide. Last Friday confirmed this hope and the climate strikes will continue until politics and business treat the climate crisis as such.

Read more about the global climate strike movement on

Photo by Derya Senol.
Photo by Derya Senol.

This article was released in the first print publication of the Graduate Press. Download the Spring 2019 print edition here.

Photo credits: Dario Siegen (featured image), Derya Senol (embedded)

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