Exeter, Devon UK • May 22, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
Home Comment The legacy of Greta Thunberg’s school strikes

The legacy of Greta Thunberg’s school strikes

News editor, Anna Kane, considers the impact of school strikes and future of student climate activism following Greta Thunberg's graduation.
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The legacy of Greta Thunberg’s school strikes

Image: Stefan Müller, Wikimedia Commons

News editor, Anna Kane, considers the impact of school strikes and the future of student climate activism following Greta Thunberg’s graduation.

On June 9th, Climate activist Greta Thunberg declared on social media that she would be completing her final school strike before graduating. The announcement marks the end of an era for Thunberg on a personal level, but also for climate activists around the world. It does not, however, signify a conclusion of Greta or her followers’ activism, since she has stated she will continue to strike for climate, just not with the ‘school-strike’ title.

Thunberg began her iconic school striking in 2018 when she stood outside the Swedish Riksdag holding up a sign: “skolstrejk för klimatet”. She describes how she and a few friends continued to strike for 3 weeks before deciding to make their strike a weekly stand. The strikes continued every Friday, and as they gained traction on a local, then international, level, the weekly strike developed other names such as ‘Fridays for Future’. The media attention Thunberg and her cause has gained divided opinions; on the one hand, she was promoting an important cause and attempting to prompt government action, on the other she was missing school and potentially neglecting her education. What is certainly clear is that in an age where social media dominates, Thunberg has thrived in making her cause globally renowned.

Thunberg’s climate activism has been for the most part effective. Alongside her school strikes, she has made several speeches, including her celebrated speech at the UN Climate Action Summit in September 2019. This was promoted and circulated on social media by several public figures, cementing her as a household name. Thunberg has also authored 3 books, her debut work titled ‘No One is Too Small to Make a Difference’ was released in 2019 and contains some of her speeches alongside photographs of her at school strikes.

What is certainly clear is that in an age where social media dominates, Thunberg has thrived in making her cause globally renowned.

The school striking combined with Thunberg’s youth (she began striking aged 15) was bound to be met with criticism. It made her liable to criticism from older generations that she was coming from an ill-informed place and should be prioritising her education, something millions of children do not have access to. However, the spread of awareness of climate inaction taken by the government is educational in itself and has certainly had a mobilising effect. Since Thunberg’s splash in the media, in the UK climate protests have abounded, more recently with the ‘Just Stop Oil’ protestors making bold strike statements like blocking busy roads to promote their cause. Studies have even been carried out on the influence of Greta Thunberg, ‘The Greta Thunberg Effect’ being among the most popular, going to show the extent of her impact.

Thunberg’s school-strikes were the fulcrum of her wider cause, permitting her to bring her fears for the future of the environment to the mainstream. Though they will be ending for her it seems that they succeeded in establishing a dialogue with the youth of today and global governments, along with inspiring young people to defend to the death their political anxieties.

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