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Op-Ed: Kids worldwide skip school to call attention to climate change

The world’s children are taking their cue from 16-year-old climate activist, Greta Thunberg. Today’s school strikes were inspired by Miss Thunberg’s Fridays For the Future movement started under the hashtag #FridaysForFuture.

The Swedish teenager describes herself on her Twitter page as “a 16-year-old climate activist with Asperger [syndrome]”. She first staged a school strike for the climate in front of the Swedish parliament in August last year. Thunberg gained international attention after speaking at the UN Climate Talks in Poland in December and at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January.

“On climate change, we have to acknowledge that we have failed,” she told global economic leaders in Davos.


A new generation will lead the world
Around the world, students have stepped up to take the lead in forming coalitions with organizations like 350.org and the Sierra Club, among others, all with the intent of sparking serious conversations about climate change. The students can be seen following in the footsteps of their peers in Parkland, Florida, who led a national conversation about gun control after a mass shooting at their school.

While climate concerns may vary depending on the country, ma young people are very concerned about the inaction they are seeing in their own countries with regard to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. And for this, they have received high praise from leaders around the world. But praise is not what they want — no, they want us to do something to protect their future.

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Christiana Figueres, former UN Secretary for the Framework Conventions on Climate Change, told Fast Company that the youth are powerful new spokespeople for the Paris Agreement.


“I suspect the clarion call of the school strikes for climate, in support of the science and keeping warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius, is beginning to resonate in board rooms and across negotiating tables everywhere,” she says.

“The school strikes have become a key piece of the puzzle in holding governments accountable and reminding them that decarbonizing and modernizing the economy is actually in their interest.”

To give readers an idea of how big the Fridays For the Future movement and the global school strike is today, there are a total of 1,693 student strikes in 106 countries taking place. They started early Friday on the far side of the world in Australia and New Zealand, where there was no shortage of chants and signs.

Hoisting signs that read “Change the politics. Not the climate.” and “Don’t be fossil fooled,” the students marched in front of government buildings.


Greta Thunberg nominated for Nobel Prize
Just this week, Greta Thunberg was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for 2019 by three Norwegian MPs, as reported by the BBC.

If Thunberg were to win the prize, she would be the youngest person to be so honored since Pakistan’s Malala Yousafzai, who was 17 when she received the prize. Miss Thunberg said she was honored to receive the nomination.


“We have proposed Greta Thunberg because if we do nothing to halt climate change, it will be the cause of wars, conflict and refugees,” Norwegian Socialist MP Freddy Andre Ovstegard told AFP news agency. “Greta Thunberg has launched a mass movement which I see as a major contribution to peace,” he added.

The prize is announced in October and awarded in December in the Norwegian capital, Oslo. There are 301 candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize for 2019.

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