“What do we want? Climate justice! When do we want it? Now!” No matter which continent, people were chanting similar phrases and carrying similar signs last week. Young students, opinionated adults, and retired elders took part in climate strikes in over 150 countries, demonstrating their concern for the Earth. These demonstrations connect people. They mobilise the frustration of millions of people regardless of their location.
Naomi Klein uses the term Blockadia in her book “This Changes Everything” to describe people and communities who resist mining and fossil fuel extraction in their local areas. She writes: “Blockadia is not a specific location on a map but rather a roving transnational conflict zone.” Blockadia is direct action. It is people coming together and fighting invasive and destructive projects. As the awareness of environmental devastation and global warming have increased, also direct action has grown. A Blockadia map lists different protests that have taken place in different parts of the world. It gives an overview of the efforts locals have engaged in while protecting their home and environment. The map is about struggles but also about victories.
In climate strike demonstrations people are not protecting their villages but the whole Earth. And children are in the front row. Yet, skipping school for environmental cause divides opinions. In places like Montreal and Helsinki, schools permitted the children to participate, even cancelled classes. In other places, schools discouraged striking. Both opinions were present in Carlisle demonstration in which I participated.
A headteacher from a local primary school took the stage with a group of his pupils. “I have been asked what I am doing taking children out of school,” he said. “This is part of their education. The children are demanding changes. They are saying ‘teacher we need to do something’.” However, teenagers from another school told that they were being fined for skipping school: £60 for marching for the Earth.
Is it better to encourage children to be rule-obeying students than active citizens?
Although these strikes and marches are not as disruptive as most other direct actions, they are little steps towards Blockadia. Maybe, if the extraction of fossil fuels will not stop, if the governments are unable to stick to their promises, and if the excessive consumerism will not end, more and more areas will become part of Blockadia.
A few UN Climate Action Summit 2019 announcements:
- France stated that it will not enter into any trade agreement with countries that “have policies counter to the Paris Agreement”.
- Russia announced that it will finally ratify the agreement.
- One-third of the global banking sector agreed to align their businesses with the agreement.
- And, several countries announced that they won’t allow oil or gas exploration on their lands or off-shore waters.