Climate activists involved in the #FridaysForFuture movement are determined not to let #Coronavirus lockdowns around the world dampen their momentum.
The weekly school strikes Greta Thunberg launched to take action against the climate crisis have been brought online – thousands of people have participated in virtual events and have started to raise awareness about climate change on social media using the hashtag #climatestrikeonline.
But climate activism did not appear out of nowhere – although in recent years it has seen a major breakthrough in grabbing the world’s attention, the digital effort during the pandemic is just the latest innovation in a movement that has evolved over decades.
From the initial pronunciation of the term “global warming” to environmental activism taking to the streets around the world, we reviewed history books to learn a little more about the history of the climate movement. Let’s take a brief look at some of the key moments that brought us to where we are today.
1. The Birth of ‘Global Warming’
In a report called “Restoring the Quality of Our Environment,” scientists suggested that the increased temperatures in the atmosphere were due to an accumulation of carbon dioxide. But it wasn’t until 1975, when the term “global warming” was invented by geologist Wallace Broecker, and it took years for the subject to reach mainstream understanding.
2. Earth Day
The first Earth Day was held in the USA almost exactly 50 years ago on April 22, 1970.
The organizers wanted to raise awareness of concerns such as pollution and toxic waste, and were inspired by the anti-war movement led by the students at the time, according to the website. Earth Day has become a global event since 1990, when 200 million people in 141 countries joined forces to bring it to the world stage.
3. Heat waves
Towards the end of the 1980s, drought and record heat led to worldwide media coverage. For example, the LA Times reported in 1989 that British scientists discovered the previous year was the hottest ever – and most importantly, it linked it. rising heat level to “global warming”.
That same year, the story was true in California as the California Energy Commission predicted that their drought, heatwaves and wildfires would hit the state more frequently in the coming years.
4. The IPCC
In 1988, he launched the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The panel of experts was tasked with assessing developing science on climate change and providing up-to-date information to governments. More importantly, the IPPC’s reports are used as a reference point in international climate negotiations – an important part of the process of getting countries to accept the necessary steps to address the issue.
The launch of the IPCC was a huge step forward for countries to attempt to cooperate on how to deal with the global warming threat, and decades later, in October 2018, the IPCC reported that the world has only 12 years to limit the climate disaster before its results become irreversible.
5. Rio Earth Summit
The Rio World Summit, an international conference on sustainable development organized by the United Nations in 1992, set out a set of principles adopted by 178 countries to improve and protect the environment.
For the first time, issues of economy, climate and international development were discussed together, but when Rio + 20 was held in June 2012, the summit was not looked at for another 20 years.
6. Kyoto Protocol
In 1997, developed countries met in Kyoto, Japan, to agree on a historic climate plan – the first agreement between countries to make greenhouse gas reductions mandatory.
The international agreement has been called the Kyoto Protocol: the commitment of industrially developed countries to reduce their emissions by an average of 5% over the period 2008-12, although there are large differences in targets for countries. The US Senate immediately declared that it would not ratify the deal.
Large-scale demonstrations calling for action on climate change became commonplace in the 2000s.
Between 2000 and 2019, there were nine of the hottest years ever recorded, but fossil fuel consumption was still rising. It led to the establishment of international pressure groups such as 350.org, an organization established to build a global climate movement.
In 2005, the first Global Day of Action took place during UN climate talks in Montreal with people from all over the world, from Canada and Bangladesh to Australia. The shows continue every year.
8. Student pressure
In 2011, student groups in the US and later in the UK and around the world began to pressure universities to give up fossil fuels. It was the birth of a new and effective focus for campaigners, and students were slowly beginning to see some success.
By 2014, 837 institutions and individual investors had committed to divestit, but only 13 of them were based in the USA. That same year, Glasgow University became the first British university to liquidate.
A global movement featured by the nonprofit network Fossil Free has registered groups around the world to pressure companies and institutions to dispose of, providing $ 11 trillion for disposal from fossil fuels by the end of 2019. The movement continued to evolve, and by early 2020, for example, half of 154 universities in the UK pledged to give up fossil fuels.
9. Rising sea levels
The Pacific Islanders began to sound the alarm as rising sea levels threaten their land and livelihoods. In 2014, a group known as Pacific Climate Warriors from the Marshall Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu, Tokelau and Solomon Islands joined a fleet blocking boat using the coal port of Newcastle in Australia. The role of Australian coal exports in heating the planet and affecting their lives.
Before launching the boats, Koreti Tiomalu, the activists’ outreach coordinator, told 350.org why they were doing this: “For more than 20 years, Pacific Islanders have been negotiating with countries like Australia with little effect to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This is a way for the warriors to stand up and say that they were not drowning, they were fighting.”
10. Climate culture
In the 2010s, public performance art on climate change became a symbol of protest.
11. Direct action
Extinction Rebellion, a direct action group organizing creative forms of protest, was launched in London in May 2018.
The group brought the British capital to a halt and began targeting events like Fashion Week to further their mission. Divisions of the group have since opened in 68 countries around the world, from Russia to South Africa.
In August 2018, 15-year-old Greta Thunberg began her first school strike, sitting alone in front of the Swedish parliament to protest the inaction on the climate crisis.
Thunberg urged leaders to take climate action seriously if they want children to be educated for their future. His action sparked a global movement under the leadership of his school students regularly striking on Fridays under the heading “Fridays for the Future“, and Thunberg was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize after his viral speeches to politicians around the world.
Now in 2020 the climate movement has become global and digital. Research conducted throughout 2019 showed that the climate crisis is heading up the agenda for voters in countries around the world – in some cases, as in the UK, voters are among the top five issues facing the nation.
Greta Thunberg was attended by Vanessa Nakate from Uganda, Aditya Mukarji from India, Alexandria Villaseñor in the USA and tens of thousands of people. These activists will continue to inspire political change and write their own history for years to come.