Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 49 Number 15, September 28, 2019 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Striving of the Youth for Change

Global Climate Strike

Global Climate Strike in London

From September 20-27, people across the world have been organising demonstrations to demand action to safeguard the natural environment, which is being devastated by narrow private interests, particularly those of the monopolies and oligopolies and the states representing those interests.

These actions, the largest actions over the natural environment in history, have been led by the youth, in particular in the form of their international School Strike for Climate movement to take time off school to organise around their demands. The demonstrations have been held to coincide with the United Nations International Day of Peace under the theme of "Climate Action for Peace" and associated UN climate change summit.

The actions have been truly global, in almost all countries in the world and involving millions of participants. A reported 800 separate events were held in the US and 400 in Germany.

In Britain, as many as 350,000 people took part in over 200 demonstrations around the country, with upwards of 100,000 rallying in London. 20,000 marched in Edinburgh and 10,000 in Brighton, according to reports.

Global Climate Strike in Edinburgh, Scotland

As elsewhere, most were youth and students. Co-organisers the Student Climate Network said that, for the first time, adults were encouraged to join striking school students, opening the way for the major unions, such as the University and College Union and Unite, to mobilise behind them. The TUC also gave support to the school strikes.

Reflecting that youth are taking matters into their own hands, taking control of their future, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told the London rally that "you and a whole generation have brought the issue centre stage and I am absolutely delighted about that".

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said, "It feels like there is a real sense from young people in particular that they simply won't wait any longer."

Meanwhile, the position of the government was to lend a veneer of support to the cause while making the issue one of law and order. School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said that, while "we share the passion... of young people for tackling climate change", this did not warrant missing school: "even one extra day of lost school can affect a child's GCSE results and their future".

Global Climate Strike in Manchester

"I am not going to endorse people leaving school," said Minister for Business, Energy and Clean Growth Kwasi Kwarteng similarly, "because I think education, time spent in school, is incredibly important."

These words came as teachers were threatened with the possibility of disciplinary or even court action if they were to support the school strike, such as by failing to record absences.

In contradiction with the government, Oxford City Council, who are holding the Oxford Citizens Assembly on Climate Change over the weekend of September 28-29, lent its support to "the voices of young people participating in Global Climate Strike".

The Oxford action, centred on a march from Broad Street in the centre of the city, was particularly large. One activist reported that the march lapped itself, encircling the town centre, the route being extended to accommodate. Members of CWU, Unite, Unison Health, and workers from the Oxford University Press and postal workers all participated alongside the region's youth and students.

Global Climate Strike in Islamibad, Pakistan

These actions, and other upcoming demonstrations, which are growing in size and militancy at this time, express the need for the youth and all people to take matters into their own hands.

Environmental degradation is part of the deepening all-sided crisis caused by the insatiable drive of privately-owned monopolies and oligopolies to accumulate vast amounts of socially-produced wealth in their state of mutual competition. This degradation does not only affect the natural environment, but also the social environment, as this oligarchy has usurped control of all decision-making, depriving the world's people of playing any role in the decisions affecting them and the Earth on which we all live.

Their competing private interests erect an insurmountable barrier between "the economy" - from their perspective, a synonym for their interests - and the interests of the environment. They are even losing control over the very forces of production that they control, reflected in their loss of ability to predict anything and manifested in the growing conditions of prevailing chaos.

Global Climate Strike in Derry, Ireland

The oligarchs increasingly resort to straightforward destruction and plunder in these conditions. Their pro-war governments representing their interests mobilise war production and actual war itself, and foster the generalised militarisation of the economy. This pro-war outlook and activity is the single most important contributing factor to the degradation of the environment.

For people to take matters into their own hands, for the youth to take control of their future, means depriving these forces of their ability to deprive the people of their decision-making power. The interests of individuals, collectives, society and humanity as a whole can be harmonised with each other and with those of the natural environment, but this can only be achieved to the extent that people empower themselves. This harmonisation is the content of humanising the natural and social environments. It means giving rise to a fundamentally anti-war form of government based on a renewed democracy in which this self-empowerment is directly expressed. Such a form of government will be able to take the measures required to overcome the destructive effects of climate change and end the pernicious practices of the monopolies and oligopolies.

Sources: Campaign Against Climate Change Trade Union Group, Guardian, Metro, Oxford City Council, Renewal Update, Telegraph, various activist reports.


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