What is the climate strike #WeekForFuture about?

David Fopp
Sep 26, 2019 · 5 min read

It is about us as united, as one people, and about our movements representing one people; one people, which acknowledges its dependence on the earth system and one another.

In the long run, there is the need for a new democratic global political movement which stands up for this vision, in every country, and we need a new first article of the UN-charter, a fundamental basis for all societies beyond the climate breakdown: that we are linked together and to the planet and can´t treat nature just as a commodity for nations or businesses.

That’s the basic thought: we show up during this week as one people, and start to force the UN and our governments to accept this new foundation. A first step is: we declare Climate Emergency, as united nations. And that means, to see the painfully limited emission-budget (well, if there is one, which one can doubt), which remains for us, the one people on this planet. We have together to decide which oil, gas and coal has to stay in the ground, with equity and social justice as compass and ban all building of new fossil infrastructure.

The school-strike by the children and young people, inspired by Greta Thunberg, is a non-violent direct action, an act of civil disobedience, of going against what the status quo asks for, but it is even more, a core example: when the young people leave their class rooms and take the streets in over 150 countries, they show to all of us, what it means to see ourselves as one people, living in solidarity on one planet. They don’t care about national borders.

This is the theme of the two Fridays and the two strikes. The young ones ask everyone to join them, to make clear that we don’t go on with a system which drives us in competition against each other, individually and as nations, exploiting nature. All of us should join them, leaving working places, schools and universities, drawing the emergency brake, stopping the ongoing destruction which leads to mass extinction and climate breakdown. Show, that you take responsibility and don’t let the young ones alone bear the burden.

The question is how can we express the following: that not only 150 countries strike simultaneously, that not only hundred thousand individuals strike, but that we build a new unity, which builds together a new common future? How can we make clear that this is a rebellion against a toxic system? Which words do we find, which signs which are directed to the ones in power, in our countries, and the UN, which are responsible for the legitimization of a destructive logic within society linked to the way how the industries of fossil fuel, agriculture, transport and so on work (there are still only 100 businesses which emit 70 percent of all CO2) and which destroy the planet and divides us, the people, making some individuals and nations enormously rich and leaving others die in hunger?

During the week, we can focus on a Climate Emergency Declaration and ask the UN to declare it on Sept 23; everybody needs to understand how serious this crisis is. This day is about spreading knowledge, about science and education: everybody, every “citizen” of the UN-nations should understand the crisis, and how little of the emission budget is left if the Paris agreement and the IPCC-1.5-C-target should be reached. This should be clear for everybody in the evening of this day. And we make clear what a CED means: linking it to emission-budgets and to social justice.

On the other days, we can focus on: science is not enough, we need democracy, the beginning of a real exchange between citizens, with science as foundation. There are thoughts about citizen assemblies or other forms of imagining a world beyond the just formalistic ways of practicing democracy, searching for a global climate action plan . We can use the collective intelligence to imagine our future. Again, we should stress the aspect, that we are together in this, that we need everyone´s intelligence, experience and ideas so that we can build the sustainable society together.

On September 23th, the UN climate summit is going to take place as a preparation for the COP 25 meeting in Chile. We make clear that we, as one people, need a new foundation of the UN in a new article in the UN charter. The UN charter has been written after the second world war, and the first two articles make perfectly sense in this context: they are about peace, and framing peace as the integrity of every national territory. But this view has to be founded on the more urgent and profound one, that peace in our times is even linked to respecting the earth system, the planetary boundaries and thinking generations ahead, together, as one people, living on one planet. It is of no use to highlight the sovereignty of nations, giving legitimacy to burn up forests and dig out fossil fuels, when we know that we have to let them stay in the ground and protect together the forests and oceans.

And during the rest of the weeks, there are many actions planned highlighting different industries which in their logic of dominance put forward the climate crisis and mass extinction: the financial sector; clothes; agriculture; energy and so on. We paint the image of a society and economy which respects instead the planetary boundaries and the needs of everyone, in every single country.

On September 27th, the week ends with a general strike with the help of the unions; and is combined with the school strike by the young people. You may ask: why the unions, why a general strike? The thought behind it is to stop the economic processes for some hours or even minutes, to draw the emergency brake again and to create a pause within a system which is murderous.

The economy is basically about what we consider as valuable. We don’t accept anymore that the economy gives value to the fossil fuels, and to a financial system which destroys our living planet; an economy which does not give value to all the care and core work which is often done by women; which makes some very rich and holds many, especially in the global South, poor. We don’t follow the logic of competitive exploitation anymore. Enough is enough. We are one people, uniting for a future which values what takes care of our shared resources and gives everybody alike a life in dignity.

Then, ExtinctionRebellion will take over on October 7: with holding blockades in the cities of media/economic power: New York, London, Berlin, Paris, changing them into public spaces and disrupting the status quo. Until the ones which divide, which make profit, which block a just transition give up and give in.

David Fopp, PhD, co-author of the press release by the international coalition for climate which coordinated the planning for the “week for future”. Ass.prof. at Stockholms University during the last years; teaching at University of Basel and Berlin, and fellow at Ecole Normale Superieure.

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