In August 2018, 16-year-old Greta Thunberg started the “School Strike for Climate” movement. Every Friday, she would sit outside the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm, urging politicians to take the climate crisis seriously. Soon, students across the world followed her example.
One year later, on September 20th 2019, millions of people around the world came together in the Global Climate Strike. Both teenagers and adults marched through the streets, with the aim to put pressure on politicians to take action against climate change.
Organizers have estimated that over 4 million people participated, across 2,500 events in 163 countries. At Twig, we share scientists’ concern about the climate, and to show our support, some of our staff created their own signs and participated in the march.
The UN Climate Summit
Only a few days later, on Monday the 23rd, the UN Climate Summit was held in New York. The UN Secretary-General António Gueterres invited world leaders to discuss the Paris Agreement—a policy that has been signed by 194 countries.
The aim of the agreement is to keep the average global temperature rise below 2°C, and if possible, even below 1.5°C. In order to achieve this, countries need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45% over the next ten years, and achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Having a net zero carbon footprint—or being carbon neutral—means either stopping all carbon emissions altogether, or making sure to balance any emissions through offsetting—for example planting trees—or through carbon dioxide removal.
But countries need to take concrete action and come up with clear plans in order to achieve these goals, which is what was discussed at the UN summit. Changes will be made across renewable energy, agriculture, forest and ocean management, infrastructure, and finance.
What can you do?
There are many things that we can do as individuals to reduce our carbon footprint. Here are some ideas: incorporate more vegetarian meals into your week; limit your food waste; use public transport, walk or cycle; buy less stuff (especially clothes); be careful to not use unnecessary water; give to charities such as WWF; and—perhaps most importantly—use your voice to put pressure on politicians through voting or signing petitions.
Last but not least, it’s important to educate yourself. Twig Science itself provides students with a thorough grounding in how humans affect the environment, with modules like Save the Island, How to Survive an Ice Age, and Cities of the Future. Meanwhile, an easy way to engage your students in real world news, including the climate crisis, is with Twig Science Reporter—a weekly science news service bringing topical news into the classroom with engaging videos and supporting material.