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Students at 957 Schools Will Strike for Climate Action on March 15. One Swedish Teenager Started the Worldwide Protest

On Friday, March 15, in nearly 1,000 cities and towns in at least 82 countries around the world, young people are planning a school strike. The reason? A lack of action on climate change. And it’s all because of one Scandinavian teenager.

By now you may have heard of Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swede who started the #FridaysForFuture movement. In just the past year, Thunberg has given a TED Talk and addressed attendees at the COP24 United Nations climate talks in Poland. At the 2019 World Economic Forum in Davos, she sternly told world leaders, “I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic.”

Thunberg didn’t quite mean to start a global climate change movement when began her weekly protest in August 2018, riding her bicycle to Swedish Parliament and sitting with a handmade sign that read “School strike for climate.” But her idea caught on because of its straightforward, powerful message: Yes, young people need to go to school—but unless humans work to actively reverse the already devastating effects of climate change, education may not matter.

In the months since Thunberg began her weekly action, a contingent of like-minded climate activists has followed suit around the world. And on Friday, March 15, young people are planning to strike. A full list can be found here.

Thunberg says even if young people put pressure on adults, it is up to world leaders to make changes now that her generation can inherit. In February, she told the Financial Times, “People tell me that they are so hopeful when they see me, and other children ‘school-striking,’ and they say, ‘Oh the children are going to save us.’ But no, we aren’t. We are too young to be able to do that. The people who are in power now need to do this now.”