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Youth for Climate Change

climate-1Climate change protesters rally in Israel

Photos: Strike for Future Israel

It's sexy, it's cool; the issue of climate change is heating up across the planet. Everywhere I turn, there is another article about global warming, sustainable environment and green construction. Although not a maven on the nits and grits of the various concerns, I do recycle regularly, save water where possible, and understand the crucial importance of tree planting and land conservation (I worked for many years at Keren Kayemeth Leisrael-JNF).

To its credit, the international media is raising awareness by frequently covering events. Reports about demonstrations are regular features. Movements such as the British "Extinction Rebellion" are proliferating across Europe with protesters carrying banners reading "Stop Ecocide" or "Climate change denies our children a future unless we act now".

When arrests are made, the impact is even greater.

Swedish activist Greta Thunberg (Photo: Wikipedia)

 In late October, a spicy report appeared under the headline "Ted Danson and Jane Fonda arrested while protesting climate change", adding that this was the "third Friday in a row that Fonda has been arrested while demonstrating." Fonda was protesting in the weekly "Fire Drill Friday Campaign" which aims to have politicians address climate change, inspired by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg. She struck a chord when she absented herself from school on a Friday in August 2018 to demonstrate in front of the Swedish parliament to have the government decrease carbon emissions in the country per the Paris agreement.

Greta became an instant viral sensation. Climate change campaigns spread like wildfire across the continents, piquing interest including in Israel. Although Israel is among the leading countries implementing tools such as solar energy and water recycling / harvesting to protect our natural resources, it has only made a small dent in the humungous task. While many of us can claim to be aware, it is only the very few who have personally placed this challenge on their agendas in any significant or meaningful way, specifically world youth.

Strike for the Future (שביתה למען האקלים) is an Israeli movement initiated earlier this year by a group of high school students who recognized the need to raise awareness in our country. They have since held several demonstrations in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv following in the path of the now 120-country-strong international Friday movement calling for action and change. In addition to striking from school on Fridays to hold demonstrations, the group organizes rallies and has formulated a range of initiatives such as proposing a "Green Course" subject in schools. Activists meet youth from the north to the south of the country, speak at youth movement events, set up sites on social media, hold marches and field operations, write to MKs, and demonstrate in front of the Knesset and municipalities. Not surprisingly, they have yet to receive one response from any official or office.

They organized a major youth climate change demonstration in Tel Aviv Rothschild Boulevard on Friday September 27, 2019 in sympathy with the youth Global Climate Strike 20 – 27 September in 150 countries round the world.

The youth climate change demonstration in Tel Aviv Rothschild Boulevard

 Their claims and aims call for monumental efforts to stop the cycle of failure of our ecosystems. Climate changes over the past five decades have caused enormous and in many cases irreversible damage to our world. The temperature is 1.5 degrees higher on average; glaciers are melting; two billion tons of waste are generated annually, ending up in landfills polluting the environment; and 12 million tons of plastic wind up in our oceans every year. These are a few of the many undeniable facts that we are indeed facing a crisis.

Tamar Avraham, a teenager from Ramat Hasharon, has taken the lead in the Strike for the Future movement. Always interested in environmental issues, she spearheaded a campaign in her school to remove single-use plastic items. Since plastic causes greenhouse effects, she would like to enhance school studies about the climate stating that "knowledge is power; if you don't know there is a problem, you cannot fix it".

Tamar would like to build up a strong student group to persuade our government to use more renewable energy (Israel exploits only 4.5% of available resources) and switch fossil fuels with more solar, wind and water energies. "We must declare that there is a climate emergency, and act by it".

On a brighter note – and in the footsteps of the Start-Up Nation - the challenge of the complicated and abysmal recycling process has been adopted by an Israeli-based company called UBQ Materials. They have developed a patented process to transform unsorted household refuse (including recyclables) from food to plastic containers, into a bio-based alternative for the production of items such as trash cans, trays, carts, piping and flower beds. Israeli brainpower and technology clearly have the ability to impact climate change. We need to channel our energies properly and become, yet again, another source of light unto the nations.

A protester with the words “I want to live” etched on her face

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Friday, 24 January 2020

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