Interview with Emma Greenwood below (see previous interviews with her, and other youth climate strikers, here).
So, what has been going on over the summer with the school strikes – what sorts of activities have been undertaken, what sorts of groups have been offering what kind of support.
Many of the Youth Strike team have utilised the summer to plan the (what we hope to be) very impactful General Strike 4 Climate that is coming up on Friday 20th September. We also held an emergency climate strike on the 26th of July in response to the extreme heat that was being felt across Europe. Some of the strikers also attended union meetings to try and build support for the strike in September to make it as impactful as possible.
The next big thing is the September 20th strike. What is planned for Manchester? How can people get involved in planning, or supporting the folks who are planning it?
The General Strike 4 Climate on the 20th is looking very big and very impactful (not to jinx it ;)). We have been overwhelmed by the support from unions, NGO’s and community groups in helping organise the strike to ensure it is the best and most accessible it possibly can be for everyone. We are planning speeches, signing, chanting and a large march around Manchester from 1pm-2pm when we will be joined by workers who are using their lunch break to stand with us and take a stand.
Regarding support, the best think you can do to help us is raise awareness about the strike. Share the posters with everyone you know and get talking! Try and slip conversations about the climate into every conversation you have (its much easier than you think). We need as many people from all branches of society to come and support us and show those in power how much the safety of our planet means to its citizens.
Here’s the tricky one (as per earlier conversation) – how is the ‘movement’ stronger on September 21st than it was on September 19th because of the strike? What new relationships have been created, what existing ones strengthened? How are the skills, knowledge and passions of ‘new’ people harnessed?
The strikes have in so many ways brought communities together, especially Manchester. We have had unions, workers and young people all working together to achieve the same goal. It is not very often you see adults and young people working together, but the Youth Strike has helped build and strengthen communication/ team work between us to ensure that our planet is safe. Never (that I know of) have so many people from across society come together and united for one thing.
We are using this network that is being built to utilise and develop peoples skills to help strengthen the movement. We allow people to explore their passions and skills, something that modern day society so often restricts. I like to see the youth strike as a space where individuality can be explored and consequently flourish as people feel they can truly be themselves. For years so many people have wanted to raise their voice and the international Youth Strike movement has allowed them to do this.
If you think back to this time last year, so many people were concerned for our planet but had no way to voice it or felt they couldn’t. Over the past year, the climate crisis has become mainstream. Every day people are taking a second thought about the environmental consequence that their actions are having, that is in itself is a huge step forward. ME must become conscious of the problem so that then we can change it. The Youth Strike Movement has by no means ‘solved’ the problem, but it has definitely accelerated the process.
Are the monthly school strikes going to continue to happen? If so, same format, or new format(s)?
The Youth Strike movement is constantly adapting and changing to work with the current social and political climate. Every strike something changes and develops in order to harness current affairs and use them to make a statement. In the future a strike may not be the way to do this, but that doesn’t we will stop fighting. We will come together for as long as we have to in whatever form we feel with have the best impact.
Anything else you’d like to say/suggest/ask back.
What do you feel has come from the strikes? As a young person who’s only been around for 15 years 8 moths and 3 days, I haven’t seen how society has changed over the years. Looking back over the years, on a wider scale what changes do you think all of the organisations working together for climate justice has caused?
And in response to that, in a personal capacity as editor of Manchester Climate Monthly.
Firstly, nothing in what I say below is ANY criticism of the youth climate strikers. It’s a sign of grotesque failure by people in their 30s and above that you guys are having to skip school and spend loads of time and energy fighting fights above your weight division. The reason you are having to do that is social movement organisations have, over decades, failed to reflect, to innovate, and have let themselves be stuck in sordid smugospheres and empty emotacycles.
To (not) answer your first question – I think it’s too early to tell what has come from the strikes (and the Fridays for Future/XR activities), or what will come that is permanent and to the scale of the challenge. But I worry that – from personal experience that
a) there are a hell of a lot of people who are not actually that bothered at all about the climate crisis (or feel powerless to do anything, don’t believe that anything can be done).
b) there isn’t the focus spreading skills and using formats beyond one-person/clique-at-the-front-being-the-expert
c) there is much more attention being paid to mobilising than movement-building, and that history has shown (though she is not necessarily a perfect guide!) that cycles of mobilisation usually last 3-4 years, and end with a big pretty political promise that is not kept,…
d) that here in Manchester we’re already seeing the predictable political responses – fine declarations of Climate Emergency that are followed by… nothing. And we in the climate movement have to take that on, and develop the skills, knowledge and networks to stop it being quite so easy for the Council to get away with that.
I think we adults have to stop using Saint Greta as an excuse not to reflect, to think, to act differently than we have been.