Swedish school student Greta Thunberg, on 20 August 2018, decided not to attend school until the general election on 9 September, after heatwaves and wildfires in the country. Every Friday since, she has protested outside the parliament against the government’s inaction on climate change.

Thunberg’s inspirational stand soon gained traction and other school students in Sweden and internationally began to strike every Friday against climate change. For example, in Belgium, on 24 January, 35,000 school students came out on strike. This was then followed by a public demonstration in Brussels of around 100,000 people on 27 January. In Belfast, school students who are angry about the climate being destroyed and their futures being put at risk have joined walkouts and protests against climate change.

strike4climate gaining traction

The Strike4Climate movement is one that has grown internationally, and rightly so. Climate change is an issue which does not affect a few countries but is something that will destroy the planet and ruin the lives of billions if something doesn’t give. Studies point to the effects of climate change wreaking havoc upon the planet, with warnings of devastating droughts, floods, heatwaves and irreversible sea level rises leaving much of the planet’s surface uninhabitable for humans. A recent study suggests we have only 12 years to take action our face catastrophic consequences.

Capitalism to blame

71% of global carbon emissions since 1981 have come from just 100 corporations. The United States Department of Defence is the world’s largest polluter. Capitalism doesn’t care about either the working class or the planet. There is an attempt to shift the blame for climate change onto individuals. Proposals of turning off light bulbs or switching to more energy efficient cars, while being a small step forward, do not address the fundamental cause of climate change – that is, the control of the production of energy and goods by big oil and gas corporations, capitalist bosses and their political representatives, who are motivated not by the needs of the planet and people but by profit margins.

Socialism offers the solution

Without true systemic and socialist change, little can be done to tackle the threat of climate change. Under capitalism, the vast bulk of our planet’s wealth and resources are owned and controlled by a tiny elite. Socialism means taking these resources and the key sectors of the economy into public ownership and using them in a planned and democratic way to meet the needs of the planet and people. To achieve this change, we need to build a mass movement which harnesses the determination of the young people and the industrial power of the working class, demanding massive public investment in renewable energy, free transport and sustainable production.

by Peter McGregor, school student activist