GLOBAL CLIMATE STRIKE MARCH 2021
This year’s strike was different than any before. During a lockdown, the challenge was to have as many people in a safe and legal environment. The brilliant idea of the organisers was a chain of people around the city’s imperial ring road, each individual with a three meter distance to the next.
I joined just before noon to listen to speeches and music acts doing cover versions of mainstream songs, dubbed with new climate crisis lyrics. There were twenty spots around the ring road, to avoid big crowds in one place, and I chose the one opposite the president’s office and the (temporary) parliament.
Two years earlier, Greta Thunberg gave a speech there. She visited many European capitals before embarking on her journey across the Atlantic. It was another moment of what everybody hoped were historic dimensions at Heldenplatz, a place where so many world changing events took place – both positive and negative.
I thought of her speech when it suddenly occurred to me that I could give a few spontaneous remarks as well. Immediately, I got emotional. On one hand, I wanted everyone to know why I’m here: To recharge my batteries and collect the energy for the upcoming months of thinking and acting on the climate crisis and what I can do about it. Emissions are still up, and time is running out. As impressive as the climate movement is, we need to do more. And that’s what we all need the energy, resilience and perseverance for.
On the other hand, I didn’t want to go up and be the next white male to make himself heard. Other voices are more important to get a megaphone. Female voices, young voices. Of course I could tell my story, and challenge all middle-aged and older people to influence their private and professional network to act on the climate crisis. Political pressure needs to keep rising. But I felt that I’d take attention and time away of those who prepared for days, weeks and months to speak.
I’m still struggling whether it was the right decision not to approach the sound guy and ask for a slot. Is it enough to loyally bike over to the strike for the third time, to stand there, alone without friends or colleagues? Is it all I can do to take photos and passively try to influence my network to join? It’s not. Not in 2021.
So, my feelings have changed over the last years and months. I can’t allow myself the naivety and ignorance hoping that a few hours of striking every couple of months will do the trick to really change things. When on the same day – and every other day of the year – the pollution lobby is firing on all cylinders to get the deals, money and absolution to keep exploiting life on Earth. I need to lobby myself, negotiate for the cause, seduce and convince, consult and influence for this project as I do for any other.
The strike gave me this energy and reminded me of my duty.