Friday, March 15, the Global School Strike for Climate was observed in more than 120 countries. This mobilization (Youth For Climate) was initiated by the 16-year-old Swedish high school student Greta Thunberg, who made her name for herself in August 2018 by waving a « Skolstrejk för klimatet » (student climate strike) sign every Friday in front of the Stockholm Parliament.
Becoming iconic (and also controversial) after the speeches she made at COP24 in Katowice (see reportage on this COP) and at the Davos summit, she spoke in Stockholm during this school strike in front of thousands of young people: « We do not accept this situation, that's why we strike, we go on strike for the future, and we will continue. »
In Paris, there were (according to the police or to the organizers) between 29,000 to 40,000 demonstrators who marched Friday, March 15. The starting point was the Pantheon and the end point was Les Invalides.
Here is an excerpt from the open letter written by the International Youth Strikes Coordination Group calling for the event and translated into 19 languages:
« We, the youth, are deeply concerned about our future.... We are the voiceless future of humanity. We will no longer accept this injustice.... We must finally treat the climate crisis as a crisis. This is the greatest threat in the history of mankind and we will not accept your inaction that threatens our entire civilization.... Climate change is already a reality. People have died, die and will die because of that, but we can stop this madness and we will do it.... United, we will get up on March 15 and many more times until climate justice is done. We call on leaders around the world to assume their responsibilities and resolve this crisis, or withdraw. You have failed in the past. If you continue to disappoint us in the future, we young people will make a difference on our own. The youth of this world are in motion and it will not stop. »
The next day was the March of the Century which gathered over all of France 1,000,000 people according to the organizers and 36,000 according to the police.
In Caen, where I shot the pictures that day, Yellow Vests were also demonstrating their Act 18. At the Calvados prefecture the two demonstrations united to form a procession of 5,000 people according to the organizers and of 2,400 according to the prefecture, and speeches took place in front of the walls of the castle of Caen. The content of the speeches can be summarized I think by the slogan « End of the month, End of the world: Same fight », photographed on many placards.
Keep in mind that on Thursday, March 14, 2019, four NGOs (Oxfam France, Greenpeace, Our Affair to All and the Nicolas Hulot Foundation (FNH) filed a lawsuit against the State for non-compliance with its climate commitments. An unprecedented procedure in France and one which has been muliplying internationally. This complaint before the administrative court of Paris is the result of the threat in the aftermath of COP24 in December 2018 by these four associations at the beginning of their petition "The Event of the Century." which collected more than 2.1million signatures.
Added in February 2021:
"Event of the century: the State condemned, "responsible" for failures in the fight against global warming. This is an unprecedented victory for the NGOs, united in the Affaire du siècle. After two years of proceedings, the administrative court of Paris has recognised that the French state was guilty of climate inaction."
https://www.franceculture.fr/emissions/journal-de-12h30/journal-de-12h30-du-mercredi-03-fevrier-2021 (Link consulted on June 18, 2021)
On May 24, Youth for Climate France called for a march two days before the European elections. See their article below published in the newspaper Libération
At this time I went to Toulouse to photograph it.
In this collection we are pleased to have captured:
-the passionate response of young people, in Paris especially, who unfortunately risk sliding into discouragement or violence if nothing is done
-the attempt at coalition between the Yellow Vests and the climat militants at Caen
-and at Toulouse the appearance in France of the Instinction Rebellion (cf Reportage, COP24) and the new political party «Urgence Écologie» which put forward a list of candidates for the European elections headed by the philosopher Dominique Bourg.
Libération: Opinion column by Youth For Climate France - May 10, 2019 at 09:23
Just about everywhere in Europe, high school and university students are mobilizing for far-reaching policies in the face of global warming. The collective behind the demonstrations in France calls for a new day of mobilization two days before the European elections.
For many years, the scientific community has been alerting the whole of human society to the coming climate crisis. However, rather than improving, the situation is getting worse. The climate crisis, predicted for the end of the century, is already upon us. The IPCC reminded us in October 2018, we have until 2030 to radically transform our societies, at the risk of facing a global collapse of our civilization.
The Ipbes, Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, which gathered in Paris this week, reminds us that our impact on the environment is causing the sixth mass extinction of species. With an extinction rate a thousand times higher than normal, humanity has reached the destructive capacity of an asteroid. Our house is burning... and we are playing arsonist.
And at the same time, the National Assembly voted to postpone the pesticide ban by three years to 2025. At the same time, we are still authorizing massive investment in fossil fuels, from Total to BNP, via the Caisse des Dépôts and the Société Générale. At the same time, our president, champion of the Earth, supports free trade treaties and new silk roads to China, promising ever greater material growth, built on frightening overproduction and overconsumption. At the same time, de Rugy gives his unconditional support to growth and the market economy.
"We are in trouble. We are in serious trouble with climate change." António Guterres, secretary general of the United Nations, reminded us of this in November at the opening of COP24, which was notable for the glaring absence of many leaders. The entire scientific community, but also thousands of NGOs around the world, millions of activists have been fighting for decades for future generations. Today, the climate generation is rising up and claiming its most fundamental right: a healthy future. Because we are the future generations.
Equality and fight against discrimination
What kind of world will we inherit? We could point the finger at you, judge you and condemn you, responsible for the current catastrophe. We could shout our anger at you, our parents, for what you have done with our home, for giving us toys instead of a future. We could give up, give up, take advantage, live in the abundance of our western society and become complacent. We could say we have no choice. But we are young, and we still have the choice to say stop to this society that condemns us! We want to build collectively a better world, liveable, fair, equitable.
Faced with the reckless exploitation of resources, we demand sobriety and a simpler way of life. This ecologically viable world must be achieved by reducing our emissions by 50% by 2030 and by aiming for a net zero carbon society by 2050. In the face of material abundance and the impoverishment of our relationships, where individualism prevails, we carry a society of collaboration, of human sharing, of conviviality. Faced with the oppression of the weakest and most precarious, we choose mutual aid and social justice, to build a world where the richest 1% do not own 82% of the wealth. Faced with a society of inequality, we defend equality and the fight against discrimination. In the face of powers that are moving ever more towards repression and the deprivation of freedoms, we demand the return of democracy to the hands of the people.
In the face of our collapsing society, we proclaim it loud and clear: the 21st century will be utopian or it will not be!
A global change of our system
Three months ago, "Youth For Climate France" was launched, the French branch of the international movement "Fridays for Future". We are raising awareness and shaking up habits. On March 15, we massively mobilized 200,000 young people in France and 1.7 million worldwide. Some of us disobey. We dream, create, demand. We rebel and fight to obtain a global change of our system.
For this, we continue our international movement of strikes for the future. We, young people, will be on strike for our future on Friday 24th May, even more numerous than on 15th March. With two days to go before the European elections, for which the climate and environmental issues have never been so important, we remind you that many of us are dependent on your choices because we are not yet old enough to vote. Once again, our future is partly in your hands, and we will be in the streets on May 24th to carry the message of the ecological and social emergency.
And we call on all of you to join us! Professors, scientists and teachers! Workers, employees, unemployed, civil servants, entrepreneurs, join us! You, our parents, our grandparents, our families, join us, don't let us lead this struggle alone.