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Youth Activists Ring In 2021 With Renewed Demand That World 'Wake Up to the Climate Crisis'

"It must be the year we take real action instead of continuing to repeat meaningless words and empty promises."

11 December 2020, Hamburg: Activists with "Fridays for Future" display a prop demanding climate action on December 11, 2020 in Hamburg, Germany.

Activists with "Fridays for Future" display a prop demanding climate action on December 11, 2020 in Hamburg, Germany. (Photo: Axel Heimken/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Youth activists around the world kicked off the new year Friday with a fresh round of #ClimateStrike actions and demands that 2021 be the year policymakers take sufficiently bold action to address the climate emergency.

Many of the pleas included the hashtag #ClimateStrikeOnline, as the coronavirus crisis has forced many "school strike for climate" events to be virtual.

"2021 must be the year that we finally wake up to the climate crisis," tweeted Sydney-based activist Patsy Islam-Parsons, noting that it was her 69th week of Fridays for Future actions.

"It must be the year we take real action instead of continuing to repeat meaningless words and empty promises," she wrote.

Greta Thunberg, who catalyzed the worldwide Fridays for Future movement, shared her signature Skolstrejk för Klimatet placard in a Friday tweet and said, "New year, same crisis."

The Swedish teen's message was mirrored in a tweet from Leah Namugerwa of Uganda, who wrote: "This is week 99 #schoolstrike4climate in Uganda. The struggle continues..."

Other climate activists added their hopes for the new year on social media as well:

Dominique Palmer, a climate justice activist and member of the U.K. Student Climate Network, put the sweeping changes needed to address the climate emergency in the context of the global efforts that emerged to contain the spread of Covid-19.

"This year has shown that urgent action in times of a crisis is possible, and now more than ever is the time to push for a green recovery," Palmer tweeted, pointing to a need for a system that "fundamentally restructures the economy for a habitable future."

In an op-ed published Thursday at the Guardian, Greenpeace U.K. executive director John Sauven also addressed the simultaneous crises. He wrote, in part:

[W]hile the pandemic was raging, so was the climate emergency, like two horror films overlapping. We saw record-breaking wildfires engulf the West Coast of the U.S., a record number of powerful Atlantic storms, the Arctic ice failing to freeze in late October, and deadly floods hitting countries from Italy to Indonesia. We got a glimpse of a chaotic world battered by multiple crises, each making the other worse, and it was terrifying.

Exceptional as the calamities of 2020 may seem, they could be just a taste of what's to come unless we change direction.

"It's clear," wrote Sauven, "that nothing short of a complete transformation of our economy and society can save us from climate breakdown." He continued:

This is why sliding back to the old normal is not an option. Unless we stop oil firms drilling for more oil, food giants destroying rainforests, and destructive fishing depleting our seas, the worst isn't over—it's just begun. Ending the pandemic is only half the job—we must also start something new and better. We must create new green jobs, invest in communities, and tackle the hardship faced by many at the same time. And 2021 is the year to do it.

That call for change was also captured in a New Year's Eve tweet from Thunberg. 

"May 2021 be the year of awakening and real bold change," wrote Thunberg. "And let's all continue the never-ending fight for the living planet."

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