His Holiness the Dalai Lama has voiced his support via social media for the millions of people who took to the streets in cities around the world on Friday and over the weekend as part of the historic youth-led Global Climate Strike.
“It’s quite right that students and today’s younger generation should have serious concerns about the climate crisis and its effect on the environment,” His Holiness stated in a tweet on Friday that has received more than 83,000 likes and over 22,000 retweets. “They are being very realistic about the future. They see we need to listen to scientists. We should encourage them.”
Believed to be the largest coordinated climate strike in world history, the Global Climate Strike is composed primarily of the international demonstrations on 20 September and the subsequent weekend, with further protest activity planned for 27 September, which is also the publication anniversary of the 1962 book Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, which was a key catalyst for the environmental movement.
The movement has manifested in a series of international protests and strikes by the people of the world demanding that world leaders be held accountable for their obligation and commitments to address the growing existential threat presented by climate change. The protests have been timed to coincide with the UN Youth Climate Summit on 21 September and the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit is being held today at United Nations headquarters in New York.
The Dalai Lama tweeted a followup message on Saturday, tying in with the International Day of Peace on 21 September, stating: “It’s our responsibility to work with vision, determination, and wisdom to create a happier, more peaceful world. We need to take action, while respecting others and their needs, considering all seven billion human beings alive today as belonging to one human family. #PeaceDayChallenge”
Protesters in some 4,500 locations in 150 countries came out in force on Friday—with organizers reporting the participation of a combined four million people in the strikes, including an estimated 1.4 million in Germany, 300,000 in Australia, 300,000 in the UK, and 250,000 in New York. From Buenos Aires to Rio de Janeiro, from San Francisco to New York, and from Edinburgh to London, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Paris, Berlin, Kabul, Dhaka, Karachi, New Delhi, Singapore, Seoul, Tokyo, Melbourne, and beyond, the people of the world assembled in a united call for global climate accountability and action.
More than 2,000 scientists in 40 countries have also signed an open letter of solidarity pledging to support the strikes.*
The international climate change movement has been spearheaded by 16-year-old Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg, who has become a global figurehead thanks to her remarkable campaign to create awareness of the dire risks posed by climate change and her call for complacent world leaders to step up as agents of change.
On Friday, Thunberg addressed the hundreds of thousands of protestors gathered in New York City, warning global leaders due to attend today’s UN climate summit that the “eyes of the world will be on them,” and that “we will make them hear us.” (The Guardian)
“We are doing this to wake the leaders up. We are doing this to get them to act. We deserve a safe future. And we demand a safe future. Is that really too much to ask?” she exhorted. “We are not just some young people skipping school and some adults who are not going to work. We are a wave of change. Together and united we are unstoppable.” (The Guardian)
The Global Climate Strike is the latest and largest in a series of increasingly global protests by the international school strike for climate movement. The first strike was led by Greta Thunberg in Stockholm in August last year, and the movement spread across borders in Europe, gathering momentum and gaining increasing participation around the world. The global action on 15 March this year saw 1.6 million participants from more than 125 countries take part. Another, on 24 May, consisted of more than 1,600 events in 125 countries, coinciding with the 2019 European parliamentary election.
The United Nations has reported that global carbon emissions are at record levels with no indications that a peak has been reached, and that the last four years were the hottest since global temperature records began. Global climate data also indicate that the 20 warmest years in recorded history all occurred within the last 22 years, with winter temperatures in the Arctic 3°C warmer since 1990, rising sea levels, coral reefs dying, and increases in air pollution, heatwaves, and food security risks.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres has urged world leaders to draw up “concrete, realistic plans to enhance their nationally determined contributions by 2020, in line with reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent over the next decade, and to net zero emissions by 2050.” (World Meterological Organization)
“As we deal with devastating climate breakdown and hurtle towards dangerous tipping points, young people are calling on millions of us across the planet to disrupt business as usual by joining the global climate strikes on 20 September, just ahead of a UN emergency climate summit, and again on 27 September,” Global Climate Strike proclaims on its website. “Together, we will sound the alarm and show our politicians that business as usual is no longer an option. The climate crisis won’t wait, so neither will we.” (GLOBAL CLIMATE STRIKE → SEP. 20–27)
Dalai Lama supports global climate strike (Tibet Sun)
Dalai Lama supports global climate strike (Central Tibetan Administration)
Across the globe, millions join biggest climate protest ever (The Guardian)
Over 2000 Scientists Pledge to Strike, Urge Colleagues to Join Global Climate Mobilization (Common Dreams)
UN Climate Action Summit 2019 (World Meterological Organization)
Dalai Lama (Twitter)
Greta Thunberg (Twitter)
GLOBAL CLIMATE STRIKE → SEP. 20–27