Fridays for Future (FFF) denounces a lack of commitment from governments to tackle climate change. Aware of the fact that their lives will be the most affected by the current decisions taken by adults in power positions, thousands of schoolchildren and students have taken the lead in organising and participating in climate activism on a large scale. Even though they might not (yet) have the solutions, young people from all over the globe are putting moral pressure on policymakers so that they identify appropriate responses based on science. They are acting as catalysts for future action.
Through FFF, young people have outgrown the mainstream environmental movement by shifting the focus from climate change to systemic change. Instead of focussing on policy change to sustain the world as it is now, young activists demand a new, more just, global system. They understand climate change as the symptom of a broader systemic problem, connected to the economic and political roots that produce other forms of violence, injustice and inequality.
Greta Thunberg participated as a speaker in the World Economic Forum in Davos (2020) and in the 24th and 25th Conferences of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (2019 and 2020). Fridays for Future was awarded the Champion of the Earth for Inspiration and Action by the United Nations’ Environment Programme (2019) and the Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award (2019).
- With around 4 million participants in thousands of cities and towns worldwide, September 2019’s global climate actions were the biggest environmental protests in the world.
- Overall, Fridays for Future’s 176,000 strike events have mobilised 14 million people.
Although no causal relation has been established, Fridays for Future claims some significant achievements, including moving public opinion in favour of climate action and helping some Green parties in Europe make gains in elections. In polls, Germany’s Greens have tripled their tally since the 2017 general election, turning into the country’s second-largest party.
Along with other groups and networks across the world, FFF is part of a new wave of social movements that, independently of commercial interests and political parties, mobilise individual citizens and activists in an informal, temporary way to gain political influence on public opinion. FFF’s campaigns and public relations have already influenced the media and political agendas, draft laws, and parliamentary decisions. Their claims are always grounded on accepted truths based on the findings of environmental scientists.
The mobilisation culture behind the movement is based on non-violent civil disobedience, and FFF’s webpage provides guidelines and resources so as protests in new locations can be organised accordingly: “no violence; no property damage; no littering; no profit; no hate (…)”. One of the key tools to attract international influence while engaging local perspectives is social media: the hashtag #FridaysForFuture enabled youth to connect common ideas and link their protests across borders. FFF offers post templates and suggestions for those interested in starting their own strikes.