On September 20, ahead of UN Climate Summit, millions of people demonstrated across Asia and the world demanding urgent action to tackle climate crisis. In Asia alone, crowds of children and workers filled the streets of up to 10 countries and major cities across the region. The demands of the strikers vary. From demanding politicians and businesses take action to stop global warming, adopting 100% renewable energy, keeping fossil fuels in the ground and tackling deadly air pollution in Asian cities. Alexandra Karyn, one of the organizers of ‘Jeda Untuk Iklim’, a climate strike movement in Indonesia expressed her concern about the vulnerability of the climate change.
“Our earth is in the process of going into mass extinction caused by the climate crisis. Forest and land fires, extreme weather, drought and crop failures are some of the crises we have experienced. Scientists calculate the age of our earth is no more than 11 years before reaching the ‘climate critical point’, that’s why need to act now.” said Alexandra.
In addition, Beatrice Tulagan, East Asia Regional Field organizer from 350.org says that joining the strike means showing people what power is.
“Joining the climate strikes and taking to the streets shows people power. It shows government and corporations just how many of us are standing alongside young people in holding leaders accountable to the realities of climate science” said Beatrice.
The climate crisis is happening now and Asian countries are particularly vulnerable to the devastating impacts across the globe. Inspired by Gretha Thurnberg, 200 young people in Thailand gathered for a die-in near the Environment Ministry in Bangkok. They aimed to pressure the local government to show what will happen if no actions are made.
In India’s capital Delhi, one of the world’s most populated cities, 300 millennials demonstrated chanting “We want climate action” and “I want to breathe clean air.”
Meanwhile, in Pakistan, more than 8000 Pakistani students, youth, and some celebrities geared up to demand the government to take urgent action in tackling the climate crisis.
Similar scenes played out in Indonesia. Protests were carried away in 23 cities including but not limited to Bali, Bengkulu, Kupang, Aceh, Bandung, Yogyakarta, Makassar, and Jakarta, Organizers estimated there were 1500 children and adults filled the street at Jakarta and the march was 1,5km long.
The same excitement happened in Philippines, with around 4500 people joined the protests across the country. Some cities in the Philippines also demonstrated a movement against plastic on September 21.
In Japan, over 5000 students and environmental activists were joining the strike across the country and 2800 youth and climate activists in Tokyo marched through the business and shopping district of Shibuya. Smaller protests were also held in some cities such as Kyoto, Hiroshima, Oita, and many more.
Rallies were organised in Korea and Taiwan with 4000 students forming a human pyramid during a rally for global climate strike for future in Seoul, and 180 students from all levels in Taipei launched a petition to press candidates in the upcoming presidential election to lay out concrete policies to mitigate climate change risks.
According to Dohyeon Kim, one of youth strikers from Korea, governments should be responsible and to stop overlooking the issue of climate.
“I think the government shouldn’t just paper over environmental problems, but take real measures to tackle the root cause. I am striking from my school because the people in power won’t listen to me unless I do. Climate change is so pressing that I am sacrificing my education to tell adults to act right now.” Dohyeon added.
A day later, Malaysia and Singapore began the movement. On September 21, organizers estimated 2000 people in Singapore turned up for the very first Singapore Climate Rally at Hong Lim Park. In Malaysia alone, where the country is undergoing a terrible haze at the moment, organizers estimated more than 1000 individuals protested at Sogo KL and head towards Dataran Merdeka.
However, for some countries in Asia, the strike has not yet finished. Strike on 20th was just a beginning and on September 27, some part of the region will demonstrate more actions together with the full week of movement. Countries that are participating are including but not limited to Philippine, Indonesia, India, Taiwan, Korea, and Thailand.
“We must take collective action for climate justice as a unified force, around the world. If we do not act soon to stop fossil fuel development and secure money to adapt to devastating storms, there will be no one left in 50 years. I will leave work so that my community sees the power that such an action can have” – Dorothea Balagtas, 17, Quezon City Association for Climate Justice, Philippines
“We need to act now. Communities and livelihoods nationwide have already been affected by climate change and India is at risk. I think it’s for all those people who think it’s just 2 degrees (the increase in global warming). But strikes like these tell people the impact just 2 degrees can have on glaciers. Fighting climate breakdown is a job for everyone to involve. Young people have shown the world what true leadership on climate looks like. Now it’s time for adults to root for them and joining them.” — Nehmat Gill, Youth school striker, India
“Pakistan is waking up as a nation to the climate crisis. This is the first time that citizens in more than 33 cities across Pakistan are mobilizing to demand climate action now!” — Abid Omar, ClimateActionPk, Pakistan
“When fine dust level is too high, most schools including mine cancel outdoor P.E. classes, which is a mere stopgap. I think the government shouldn’t just paper over environmental problems, but take real measures to tackle the root cause. I am striking from my school because the people in power won’t listen to me unless I do. Climate change is so pressing that I am sacrificing my education to tell adults to act right now. I feel responsible for living in Korea, one of the richest countries in the world overlooking its massive impact on the global climate. I want the S.Korean government to recognize its responsibility to protect our future, rather than merely taking a superficial action pressured by international society.” — Dohyeon Kim, 15 years old, Youth Climate Action, Korea
“I do not hold myself to be an environmentalist as it sets me apart from everyone else. We need to be conscious people of this planet, it’s very basic. Just as the causes of the haze is very basic, us, greed, as we are intentionally burning our lungs to make space for the things we do not need. Haze is not a naturally occurring disaster as it is intentionally done by us to satisfy the never-ending hole of greed.” — Nia Raj, 23 years old, Co-founder of Klima Action Malaysia, Malaysia
“We are demanding that the Thai government declare a climate emergency and stop using fossil fuel. We all will die if we don’t act on climate change now.” — Nanticha Ocharoenchai, 21 years old, Climate Strike Organizer, Thailand
“I’m joining the strike because I see there is a huge gap between what people understand about climate and what our climate crisis situation is. We at Climate Rangers Jakarta, we want young people to be able to understand what climate crisis really is. This Global Climate Strike will be our platform to spread awareness and urge people to start acting now.” — Novita Indri, 23 years old, Climate Strike Organizer / member of Climate Rangers Jakarta, Indonesia
“Singapore talks a lot about emission intensity and about our mitigation efforts and about $100 billion going into our climate adaptation plans. But the $100 billion is not going to address the crisis. We are not stopping the rain, we are buying a $100 billion umbrella.” — Shawn Ang, 21 years old, Youth striker, Singapore