The year 2018 saw mass public activism in favour of the climate, including young people demonstrating against political inaction, in a context also marked by strong social resistance.
Hundreds of thousands of people mobilised across the world
The growing public mobilisation around the climate emergency first resulted in a new wave of climate marches. Relaunched in France following the resignation of Nicolas Hulot, the environment minister, climate marches again united thousands of participants across the globe.
Movements of civil disobedience
In the United Kingdom, this mobilisation took the shape of a civil disobedience movement, Extinction Rebellion, which spread to other countries. Strikes and demonstrations by school and university students also emerged in Sweden, Australia, Belgium and Canada. The Swedish high school student Greta Thunberg was a figurehead for this global youth movement against climate inaction. This was combined with the publication of student manifestos in several European countries expressing their refusal to work for companies that fail to make adequate commitments to the climate challenge.
Citizens taking legal action
At the same time, legal proceedings were launched, taking inspiration from the successful case against the Dutch government. In Colombia on 5 April 2018, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of 25 plaintiffs aged 7 to 26 who had taken action against the government to force it to stop deforestation in the Amazon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In France, the Affaire du siècle petition, promoted by a group of Youtubers, received record support from 2 million French people.
Reconciling sometimes contradictory expectations
These actions contrast with forces of social resistance that remain strong: the French gilets jaunes movement, which started by rejecting environmental taxes, is one example. Reconciling social justice with environmental preservation is clearly essential to avoid the risk of handing power to governments that are hostile to environmental questions, as the USA and Brazil have shown.PU
S TRENDS CLIMATE EMERGENCY DEMOGRAPHIC CHALLENGE DIGITAL REVOLUTION PUBLIC EXPECTATIONS RISKS AND OPPORTUNITIES15