StudentForClimate movement reaches Groningen
You may have heard of a new student movement expanding its influence across the globe, called #StudentforClimate. Having originated in Sweden by the 16-year-old activist, Greta Thunberg (now nominated for a Nobel peace prize for her actions), she inspired many youths in education systems across the globe to strike against their institution in reaction to the climate crisis. They follow the slogan of, “why do we need to study for a future that will not exist?” Greta originated the movement by skipping school to sit in front of the Swedish parliament for a week. When the movement took off, she returned to school but continues to strike every Friday.
Greta’s actions have inspired a new revolution of university protests across the globe. We know that university students are usually the ones with the most “radical” minds, but there is no excuse to deny us a future with the current exploitation of fossil fuels that are the main cause of global warming and natural disasters. We, the young and educated, are the ones who will have to live with the consequences of the actions from major companies that exploit the Earth’s natural resources when there are more sustainable and cleaner solutions. So, it is no surprise that Groningen, a major student city that’s also known for having fracking issues, has been taken under the wing of this movement. “Students for Climate Groningen” has a rapidly expanding online platform, with their Facebook events popping up all over your social feed. They’ve been organizing weekly marches on Thursday morning, starting from the Grote Markt, down to Zuiderdiep, up through Herestraat, and finally ending back at the Grote Markt. They’re peaceful but still enough of a march that a small police presence follows them. Their aim isn’t just to bring awareness through the youth, but to the politicians as well.
The politicians, the major corporations, they’re the ones responsible for making the decisions that affect Earth. In a couple of days, provincial elections will take place over the country, as residents and citizens alike participate in the polls. Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister and leader of the VVD (People’s Party for Freedom) party, visited Groningen a couple of weeks ago on a campaign trail ahead of the elections. His presence was responded to with protests. Trails of students acted in a ‘play-dead’ behaviour – where many lay down in the Vismarkt in front of Rutte, in a symbolic act of what the future will be for the current youth if we do not act now on the climate crisis. Rutte responded by carefully walking over the “bodies.” (More on this here (Dutch but with pictures): https://www.oogtv.nl/2019/03/premier-rutte-drinkt-kopje-koffie-op-vismarkt/)
The movement has reached me, too, but I’ve been aware of this crisis since a young age. I’m not sure if many 19-year-olds also received similar education in primary school, but alongside studying creative writing and basic maths in fourth or fifth grade, I also learned how global warming was manifesting itself in natural disasters; and that our solution of replacing fossil fuels were windmills, solar panels, and hydroelectric dams (just to name a few). This only goes to show how much we knew climate change was happening for more than two decades, even longer than that, how much we knew what the source was (human exploitation of fossil fuels), and how much we knew about solutions to prevent global warming from increasing. But apparently, we only act under pressure. These student climate strikes occurring all over the globe are a sign of this pressure. Just as fossil fuels are formed over millennia of heat and pressure, you bet we will make fossil fuels out of ignorant businesses within the next few years.
Do you want to get involved as a student in Groningen?
If you know nothing about climate politics, inform yourself. Then decide what kind of role you’d like to play in the lessening the crisis. Below I will list a number of relevant links, social groups and online platforms to get you started. We hope to see you at our next student strike!