When Greta Thunberg began skipping school on Fridays in order to protest in front of the Swedish Parliament, demanding immediate action in response to the climate crisis, she inadvertently started a movement. Since then, Fridays for Future has exploded, with students striking around the world.
Now, this September, the youth organizers are ramping up their efforts, calling for a Global Climate Strike. Xiye Bastida, 17, is a high school student and member of the core committee for Fridays for Future NYC. In the days before the strike, she spoke to ELLE.com, explaining, “We’re hoping the strike will not only raise awareness globally to citizens who will be seeing us marching on the streets, but it will also exert pressure on our global government.”
Bastida, who was born in Mexico, moved to NYC four years ago. For her, the move proved how widespread the climate crisis really is: In 2015, her Mexican town suffered from flooding, the first time it was clear to her that she was experiencing the effects of climate change. Then, upon moving to New York, she saw the damage from Hurricane Sandy, “which just made it more clear to me that the climate crisis was happening everywhere.” Her passion, she says, comes partly from her parents’ climate activism and her indigenous roots, as she and her dad are both Otomi, part of a group of indigenous people in Mexico.
“People [say] we don’t understand the politics or the science or the complexities of the world,” she says. “But to want a livable planet—to want a livable future—is not something that we should be fighting for.”
Below, everything you need to know to join Bastida and prepare for the upcoming strikes.
When is it?
The Global Climate Strike will take place on Sept. 20. There will also be an International Earth Strike on Sept. 27. People are encouraged to take part in one or both; by participating in both strikes, participants are echoing the need for sustained action when it comes to fighting for climate justice. (According to the Earth Strike website, Sept. 27 was picked because it is the anniversary of the book Silent Spring, which helped start the environmentalist movement.)
The strikes also bookend two important summits happening at the United Nations: the Youth Climate Summit, taking place on Sept. 21, and the Climate Action Summit, taking place on Sept. 23. According to Vox, the summit on the 23rd is a meeting ahead of the UN General Assembly, where countries are expected to “ramp up their ambitions to curb greenhouse gases under the 2015 Paris climate agreement.”
Who can participate?
Everyone! While typical Fridays for Future strikes have mostly included students, the Global Climate Strike invites everyone to participate. In New York City, specifically, 1.1 million public school students are officially allowed to attend the strike without being penalized, according to the New York Times. The Times reports that Bastida worked alongside other youth organizers in order to get 15 City Council members to request the excused absences.
A number of companies have also pledged to participate by closing their stores, including Ben & Jerry’s, Patagonia, and Lush. According to Fast Company, Burton will shut down sales on its website and instead direct customers to the Global Climate Strike site; the company will also be turning its brick-and-mortar stores into gathering spaces for people before and after the march and offering paid time off to employees so they can strike.
Employees at Google, Amazon, and Microsoft are also preparing to walk off the job and strike on their own.
How many people are striking?
The Times reports that organizers hope the demonstrations will be “the largest on climate in the country’s history.” As of now, there are at least 800 strikes planned across all 50 states and people in 150 countries are planning to strike.
You can find an event near you at the Global Climate Strike website.
What are the goals of the strike?
The organizers of the Global Climate Strike have spelled out some of their demands on the event’s website. They wrote, “We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart.”
“This is a global moment to show politicians everywhere that our movement is growing … and we won’t stop until we get climate justice for everyone.”