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Climate strike and coalition; LSE joins the international call for action

Christie van Tinteren

Editors: Phoebe Beckett Chingono and Oliver Wheeler

“Global warming is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate.” (IPCC, 2018).

As long as it takes to complete four LSE undergraduate degrees, or three if measuring in PPE courses, the world’s climate will be drastically changed. Floods, drought, more intense hurricanes, rising sea levels - we all know the risks posed by climate change. There’s a consensus among climate scientists as to its probable impacts and to its human-induced origin. While Trump escalates his anti-science rhetoric ahead of 2020, wilful ignorance stretches much further than the US in this instance. The majority of G20 countries are failing to meet their climate promises and it is quite clear that fingers-in-the-ears politics predominates the world stage, despite irregular, and inevitably unfulfilled, commitments to act. Climate change must be met with political and economic change. This cannot and will not come from conversations in the stuffy committee rooms of parliaments, or from the philanthropic acts of a few billionaires and companies.

What is becoming obvious is that these political and economic changes must be forced by global mass movement.

On February the 15th, thousands of UK school children left their classrooms, took to the streets, and joined a swelling international movement known as the School Strike 4 Climate. This particular movement has its roots in Greta Thunberg’s Skolstrejk for Klimatet and the students involved have been roundly praised by the media for their actions. Also notably active is Extinction Rebellion (XR), who have been organising road blocks, street parties, and meetings across the country. While there are quite varied opinions on XR, they have been uniting traditionally disconnected groups, reaching more rural communities, and pushing for a shift in government policy. The appetite for climate action in the UK has perhaps never been greater. More so, the demand for upheaval globally seems to be intensifying. The anger of the gilet jaunes movement in France, which admittedly has a different focus, has seen the capitulation of a government which stubbornly refused to act at first, while the protests continue in their pursuit of more radical change in the country.

It is against this backdrop that the LSE Climate Strike has been called by 68 as part of a large coalition of societies, including the Men’s Rugby Club, UN Soc, PRIDE Alliance, the Liberal Democrats, and Labour Society. Joining with other universities across London, with Imperial, UCL, SOAS, King’s, Goldsmiths, and the conservatoires, we will strike and march as part of the Youth Strike 4 Climate, an international event on March 15th.

This is a truly intersectional event and we encourage everybody to get involved.

The unification of the diverse parties involved in this action highlights how the climate strike movement, and climate activism more generally, could fundamentally shift the way we talk about the issues of our day. There are areas of void in the discussion of contemporary mass movements – traditional analytical classification perhaps no longer provides commentators the basis from which to describe and critique. Many categories used in traditional political discourse – ‘left’ and ‘right’, for instance – are open to invalidation. The categories of ‘political’, ‘economic’, ‘environment’, and ‘society’, to pull-out a few, even seem open to overthrow as global climate change focuses attention on the intensely related nature of existence.

Despite our interconnection, however, the unequal impacts of climate change (on the global poor and women, for instance) highlight the need not to universalise experience. Diverse parties compose this common struggle – I’m pretty sure the LSE Rugby Club, Marxists, and Liberal Democrats have never joined together to co-host any event, let alone a political one. This historical moment shows us how we might struggle in common, without effacing all differences.

This is, of course, in keeping with the values and aims of 68. Echoing the now famed banner of LSE’s 1960s demonstrations – ‘Beware of the Pedagogic Gerontocracy’ – the issue of generational difference is at the forefront of the current Youth Strike movement. Even more, in our push toward resuscitating activism on campus, the LSE Climate Strike also offers the possibility of engaging that element of student-life increasingly being lost to the anxiety-inducing fusion of financialisation, marketisation, and competition in education. Climate activism provides the potential to cross outdated categorical divides, unite us as a student community, and try to put an end to the ‘causes of [this] thing’ – that is, soon to be irreparable climate damage.

So, let’s make March 15th memorable, demonstrate the strength of our newly created coalition, and demand the urgent transformations we all know are now necessary.

 

The LSE Climate Strike will start outside the Saw See Hock Centre (SU) at 11am, and will march towards parliament from 12pm. Further details of the event can be found on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/events/410393389729752/