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Now it’s the kids’ turn to teach. Lesson one: Saving the climate

Words: Anne-Marie Hoeve

Photos: Ken Hermann

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What started when Greta Thunberg first skipped school for climate action, is now an international phenomenon, with Fridays for Future staging a global strike on 24 September. 5 met a few of the movement’s teen activists at Copenhagen’s Tomorrow Festival. Here’s what they had to say.

Hannah Baumgarten, 14

“I only joined a few months ago, but being part of Fridays for Future reduced the negative emotions I was having about the climate crisis. Being able to take action created a kind of hope. 

This summer during the holidays, I went to a climate camp with other activists for Fridays for Future. We were preparing for the strike on Friday 24 September. It’s a big international strike – for everyone, not just schoolkids. The community of co-activists and the green student movements make me proud of the new generation, that even at such a young age we’re taking action. 

I feel like politicians talk about the climate but don’t act because they’re afraid. And I understand that, but it’s their responsibility. My biggest hope is that the government takes the situation seriously because they are the ones that can make a real change. We can push the agenda, but I think that’s unfair in some ways. Why do we need to press the government to take action?”

“Being able to take action created a kind of hope”

Hannah Baumgarten

Kaisa Fischer, 14

“I joined Fridays for Future a year ago because I saw so much in the news about climate change and the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. Also, seeing Greta Thunberg and her school strike, I thought she was so brave and inspiring, I wanted to do that too.

What I really want is for those in power to make a change now. Not tomorrow or in a year or in 10 years, but now. The change I’d most like to see is that we get our electricity and our power from green energy. I’d also like us to stop producing so many things. All the clothes, the meat – we produce too much of everything.

My parents are very supportive. But sometimes they say, you have to go to school and study instead of going on a school strike. My mom and I have made a rule: I can strike once a month. My dad is more into it. He thinks that I can learn a lot with Fridays for Future. I’m usually quite shy but have visited schools to give talks about the movement – I’m really proud of that. No matter who you are – men, women, young, old – we can all do something.”

“The change I’d most like to see is that we get our power from green energy”

Kaisa Fischer

Annalea Vium, 14

I joined Fridays for Future last October. I learned a lot very quickly and that’s when I really became serious about activism. I’m really surprised by how numb people are, walking around and not really doing anything. I feel like there’s no sense of urgency in our society and I’m missing the momentum of the election year in Denmark in 2019, when suddenly everyone knew what a climate strike was. The energy that was there back then – that’s what will really motivate people and politicians. They were suddenly interested in it because the people were interested and now it’s gone quiet, maybe because there are no elections this time?

Fridays for Future is not just about grassroots and consumers. It’s really about addressing these things also for the politicians and the big companies to take responsibility and make a drastic change. The responsibility shouldn’t only be on the consumer. It’s really difficult to be a ‘perfect citizen’ where you abstain from everything, because we are in a structural system that’s crooked.

It’s fine to be a vegetarian and live like that but it’s really hard to achieve things on your own, as individuals. You have to mobilise things at a bigger scale.That’s why it’s very frustrating because it’s not just about you and me – it’s the government. Big decisions need to be made for society as a whole to change.”

“The responsibility shouldn’t only be on the consumer”

Annalea Vium

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