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Climate Change Action: School Walkouts and UN Summits

Can student protests and UN summits unite the world behind climate change action?

By:  |  September 24, 2019  |    508 Words

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Climate change is a divisive issue. Many believe manmade climate change will be the end of us all while others don’t think it’s a problem at all. As GenZ’s Onar Åm explained, the science isn’t settled, and for now, we’ll have to wait and see. If manmade climate change is an imagined problem, then there isn’t much to worry about. If, on the other hand, it’s destroying our world, then something certainly has to be done – but what?

Climate activists around the world are trying to answer that question, and it seems the solution that most people favor is government intervention.

This is a busy week for climate change news, as the United Nations met for a summit to discuss the issue, and young people across the world are skipping school to protest environmental problems.

Global Climate Strikes

From September 20-27, students around the world are walking out of school in protest. It all began with Greta Thunberg, a student from Sweden. She first got the attention of the world by skipping school and staging sit-ins at the Swedish Parliament. This eventually became a movement called Fridays for Future.

greta thunberg

(Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Now Fridays for Future has become a worldwide trend. The students who skip class to protest and the adults who support them hope to convince lawmakers that laws can be passed to stop pollution.

There are those, however, who don’t support this action. Some don’t believe in manmade climate change at all. Others do, but don’t believe it can be fixed.  Still others support the belief but not the action, feeling either that the students shouldn’t skip school for protests or that the lawmakers won’t be swayed.

UN Climate Summit

Leaders from around the world met Monday, September 23, for the UN Climate Action Summit. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wasn’t interested in just more pretty words, warning world leaders not to come to the summit with “beautiful speeches,” but to bring “concrete plans.”

According to a press release, the summit seems to have been a success, as 77 nations committed to being carbon neutral by 2050. Over 100 business leaders also delivered action plans. So, what exactly does it mean to be “carbon neutral”? Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a chemical found in some types of pollution, and too much carbon in the environment may be causing climate change. To be carbon neutral, a country or business must cut its net carbon emissions to zero. Any carbon released must be “offset” by making sure that some positive action makes up for the environmental damage. One way of dealing with extra carbon dioxide, for example, is planting more trees.

Will all of the promised contributions be met? If so, will it make the difference climate activists hope it will? And finally, does it even matter? These are the questions to keep in mind in the years to come while watching this issue – and the promised plans to address it.

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