As the United Nations’ 75th General Assembly continues to unfold under pandemic conditions, #FridaysforFuture is urging the world’s children and their supporters to participate in a global climate strike this Friday, September 25.
On its Canadian site, #FridaysforFuture links Friday’s action to today’s Speech from the Throne. “Start planning your event now so that your parliamentarians and community know that COVID, the climate emergency, and systemic racism are all linked and the vast majority of us want Canada to #BuildBackBetter and a #JustRecoveryForAll,” writes the group.
The global child and youth activist group is calling the strike to protest the lack of concerted global action to address the increasingly self-evident climate emergency, reports The Guardian. Whether they join in online or in the streets, #FridaysforFuture is asking participants to ensure the “MAPA” signal (“two closed fists pressed together with thumbs up, symbolizing strength, solidarity, and hope”) figures prominently in whatever action they take. Standing for Most Affected People and Areas, MAPA was coined to replace what the youth see as the banal neutrality of phrases like “the global South”.
As #FridaysforFuture launches its first large-scale action since the pandemic broke in spring, it states that, despite the crisis of COVID-19, “this is not a time to be silent.” As the UN’s annual General Assembly unfolds (virtually) in New York, the world continues to reopen, and emissions continue to rebound.
Evidently in agreement that the citizens of the world need to be shouting in chorus, UN Secretary General António Guterres is making a destabilizing climate and the need for a green pandemic recovery a focus for the assembly. Also onboard is Prince Charles of England, who in a speech Tuesday was expected to urge policy-makers to use the lessons of the pandemic to initiate a low-carbon reset of the global economy.
“Without swift and immediate action, at an unprecedented pace and scale, we will miss the window of opportunity to reset for…a more sustainable and inclusive future,” he said.
Calling the pandemic “a wake-up call we cannot ignore,” the prince confirmed the that too-long “decried, denigrated, and denied” climate emergency is “rapidly becoming a comprehensive catastrophe that will dwarf the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.”
Evidently not onboard, however, was UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. According to The Guardian, Johnson had been expected to use his designated speech time to (finally) articulate the UK’s plans as host for the next United Nations climate conference, COP 26, postponed due to the pandemic and now scheduled to be held in Glasgow next November. Instead, he played the clown, delivering a speech about the mixed blessings of artificial intelligence that might have been an amusing diversion in another forum—or on another planet.
Nor did Johnson make his expected announcement that the UK would cease funding overseas fossil fuel development. Instead, he used oil merely as a metaphor for the socio-economics of technology.
“Just as the carboniferous period created the indescribable wealth—leaf by decaying leaf—of hydrocarbons, data is the crude oil of the modern economy,” he declared. “And we are now in an environment where we don’t know who should own these new oilfields.”
Writing in advance of Johnson’s speech, The Guardian noted that the delayed COP, at which the PM will play host, “is seen as one of the last chances to put the world on track to fulfil the Paris accord.”