“How Dare You!” is the message of the climate strikes

“How dare you!” This is the speech that Greta Thunberg made to the UN just after the climate strikes, which attracted more than 4 million protesters (mainly young people) globally. In her speech, she criticised our world leaders’ stance on their attempt to curb the negative effects that we are having on our environment. 

A Climate Summary

In 2016, 175 states signed the Paris Climate Agreement, stating that they would help to stop global temperatures rising more than 2C (however, this would only mean that we have a small chance to stop completely irreversible damage). Ideally, lowering this to 1.5C would give us a much better chance to avoid droughts, starvation in certain countries, and to save key environments, such as the coral reefs.

Then in late 2018, a girl named Greta Thunberg came onto the climate scene, a 16-year-old girl from Sweden who since has become a globally recognised environmental activist responsible for the ‘School Strike for Climate’. She has become a controversial character, with many people not agreeing with her stance towards climate change – only this week, Jeremy Clarkson retaliated to her ‘How Dare You’ speech stating, ‘How dare you sail to America on a carbon fibre yacht that you didn’t build […], that you didn’t earn’. But despite some people not agreeing with her approach, it’s still undeniable that she has got the world’s attention.

What are our goals in the UK?

The efforts for climate change in the UK stated that by 2050 we will reach a goal of ‘net zero’ emissions. This means that emissions will still be produced, but those released will be taken back out of the atmosphere by technologies that don’t currently exist (you see the problem here?).

There is also a plan to take diesel and petrol cars off the roads by 2040, replacing them with electric cars powered with solar energy. Although the government is undeniably moving in the right direction, there are many who believe that the dates are too far in the future, with some even arguing that we need to reach ‘net zero’ emissions by 2025!

The strikes

The first global strike occurred in March 2019, attracting more than a million strikers across 125 countries. In May, a second strike took place coinciding with the European Parliament Elections. Then, over the last two weeks (Friday 20th and 27th September) there were further climate strikes with a predicted 4 million protests globally. It is being hailed as one of the biggest protests in history.

There’s only so much individuals can do

The climate strikes that took place last week demonstrated that people from different backgrounds, age groups and countries will unite over their concern for the environment. But there is only so much that individuals can do, only so many reusable cups and cardboard tents we can buy, before reaching a brick wall. Domestically there is a lot that can be done, such as reducing our waste, but this can only be achieved with companies and governments acting alongside us.

I try as hard as I can to go waste-free: I buy my groceries without any plastic, and I have stopped myself from buying products that I can’t buy without plastic. However, people shouldn’t have to make this decision. For example, I now buy loose leaf tea, because the humble tea bag can contain up to 20% plastic, something that horrified me when I found out. Why do tea bags need to contain plastic?


It is these small things that are beyond the control of the individual, and this is where our governments come in and need to act. They should be taking responsibility and finding solutions to these problems. They have encouraged the excessive use of plastics, and the endless release of emissions into our atmosphere.

We are facing an unprecedented global climate emergency, organisations like Extinction Rebellion believe the government has failed to act. They have been aware for years that this is having a negative impact upon our home, planet Earth, and they have been careless, dismissing the facts and burying their heads in figurative sand until we arrived at our situation today.

The strikes may be seen as an excuse to have a day off school and work; Greta Thunberg may not be the most widely accepted activist, but that is, to an extent, irrelevant. Regardless of opinion, Greta and the supporters of the strikes have brought huge attention to the climate crisis with their passionate pleas for our governments to act. However, even with the incredible turn out for the strikes, and the increasing support for environmentally friendly alternatives, the baton now has to be passed from our hands to those of world leaders in the race to save our planet, our home.

Image: Evening Standard

Michaela Clancy

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