But while a new language of urgency might permeate the discussion around the climate and ecological crisis, policy action does not match this rhetoric. Emissions are still rising, increasing 2.8% last year to reach a record level. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is at a three million year high. Deforestation and habitat destruction are surging. UN summits have come and gone and largely failed. And the consequence of continued failure is suffering and death for large numbers of people.
The failure of conventional politics to effect a shift in direction has created an upsurge in civil society activism, led by groups including Extinction Rebellion and the youth strikers for climate. And it is this latter group that will lead activities tomorrow when the first general strike for climate takes place in towns and cities across the world.
Fauna & Flora International (FFI) is supporting the strike and encouraging employees to participate, because the climate-stable, nature-rich world FFI works for is imperilled by the broader trends and conditions within which that work takes place.
It is clear that the world is faced with a systemic problem that requires systemic solutions. An up-swell of pressure from a broad coalition of groups within society is perhaps the best chance we have of galvanising politicians to make the systemic changes necessary.
The significance of this moment should not be overlooked. The strikes – and the inspirational young people leading them – are a model for the kind of global coordination we’re going to need to tackle this crisis.
That it has come to this – children dragging adults to action in order to save their futures – reflects shamefully on the current state of our politics and institutions.
But the leadership of these young people is also the best reason in a long time to believe we might just find the collective courage to pull ourselves back from the brink and solve the biggest crisis humanity has ever faced.