A new worldwide popular movement driven by young people has emerged with protests everywhere in defense of our planet against the menace of climate change.
It all started with Greta Thunberg, a Swedish 16-year-old, who began by protesting in front of her Parliament calling passersby to wake up to the “climate breakdown.”
For Greta, societies and world authorities are acting at a rather slow pace. Seemingly, little is being achieved in combating environmental degradation and in meeting the targets to avoid irreversible damage to God’s creation.
Recently, she met Pope Francis. Greta said that “our house is on fire.” Young Catholics around the globe have participated in the climate strikes and are mobilizing for climate justice.
Indeed, the world has reached dangerous levels of devastation whose effects are already being felt. The signs are there for all to see. In the past few years we have witnessed the hottest seasons ever registered, the increasing frequency of destructive floods and wild fires, the extinction of animal species and the disappearance of glaciers at a faster rate than expected.
And the poor communities are the ones bearing the brunt of it all. Let us recall the African nation of Mozambique that was struck in less than two weeks by massive flooding caused by two powerful cyclones killing over 1,000 people and displacing more than 500,000.
When Gracia Machel, Mozambique’s former First Lady, travelled to Beira, the fourth largest city located in the central region, in the aftermath of cyclone Idai, she said that the city is the first to be 90% wiped out by climate change in history.
In the midst of this apparently apocalyptic scenario, a few rays of hope are emerging. Following waves of climate strikes and protests by young people and older generations the British parliament made history by being the first in the world to declare an “environment and climate emergency.”
The declaration recognizes the need to strengthen the fight against climate change and pollution. Concrete legislation and bold actions will follow in the short term. The lawmakers’ motion foresees new measures to neutralize carbon emissions up to 2050, an increase in the consumption of renewable energies and the reduction of waste.
Such historic decision by the parliamentarians of the United Kingdom is the result of the social pressure on the politicians. Young people will go down in history as the agents of change who triggered the necessary “popular uprising” and “spirit of rebellion” for the good of our planet.