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People take part in the demonstration 'Fridays for Future' in Piazza del Popolo, on April 19, 2019 in Rome, Italy. (Photo: Simona Granati-Corbis/Getty Images)

To Escalate Fight Against 'Existential Crisis,' Greta Thunberg Backs General Strike for Climate

"It is something that will affect the future of our civilization. It's not just a movement. It's a crisis and we must take action accordingly."

Julia Conley

Youth climate strike leader Greta Thunberg gave her support to a potential general climate strike, which would expand to the general population the movement she began last fall.

At an event hosted by the Guardian in London on Monday, Thunberg spoke at length about the need for older generations to join the students in more than 100 countries around the world who walked out of their classrooms in March in the School Strike for Climate.

"Civil disobedience is important to show this is an emergency. We need to do everything we can to put pressure on the people in power." —Greta Thunberg"This is not just young people being sick of politicians. It's an existential crisis," Thunberg said. "It is something that will affect the future of our civilization. It's not just a movement. It's a crisis and we must take action accordingly."

Thunberg confirmed later in the event that she advocates for a general strike by simply responding "Yes" when an audience member asked if she felt it was time for a work stoppage in which workers all over the world from various industries would refuse to work until politicians meet the strikers' demands.

Writer and anthropologist Jason Hickel applauded the 16-year-old activist for her support, calling a general strike "the sensible next step" needed to force politicians to act immediately to reduce fossil fuel emissions.

A general strike would be an "unprecedented measure," wrote former British Parliament candidate George Aylett. "But we live in unprecedented times."

The grassroots movement Earth Strike International tweeted a link to Thunberg's comments along with a reminder of the general strike the group is planning for September 27.

After appearing at the Guardian's event, Thunberg made her latest direct appeal to government leaders at a meeting with British members of Parliament on Tuesday.

The 16-year-old reprimanded the politicians for allowing the U.K.'s fossil fuel giants to continue to release damaging emissions while the country only incrementally reforms its climate policies.

"The U.K.'s active current support of new exploitation of fossil fuels, like for example the U.K. shale gas fracking industry, the expansion of its North Sea oil and gas fields, the expansion of airports, as well as the planning permission for a brand new coalmine, is beyond absurd," Thunberg said.

"This ongoing irresponsible behavior will no doubt be remembered in history as one of the greatest failures of humankind," she added.

Thunberg's comments came after remarks she delivered Sunday to members of the Extinction Rebellion, the climate justice movement which has been occupying landmarks in London for over a week with demands that lawmakers declare a climate emergency and act to reduce fossil fuel emissions to net zero by 2025.

"Civil disobedience is important to show this is an emergency. We need to do everything we can to put pressure on the people in power," Thunberg said Monday of Extinction Rebellion's public actions.

In February, Thunberg's appearance before European Union officials helped secure a pledge from European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker to spend a quarter of the E.U.'s budget to mitigate the effects of the climate crisis.


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