On Friday, next to the bustling traffic during the evening rush hour at Town Hall in Bengaluru, stood hundreds of people. Protesting and demanding action on climate change from the government, the protesters carried placards and banners reading “I want you to panic”, “Denial is not a policy”, “Winter won’t come anymore”.
This protest was called for as part of a global movement, #FridaysForFuture, by the 16-year-old Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg. The movement started when the teenager started skipping school every Friday to protest against inaction on climate change.
The protesters in Bengaluru mostly consisted of students, some parents, and concerned activists and citizens.
One of the protesters was Rajini a member Extinction Rebellion India’s Bengaluru Chapter. “We ask for three things from the government: the first is truth to be told to media and people about climate emergency. Second, act now, otherwise it will be too late as per the IPCC report. Third, we have to go beyond the current political equations to create a new scenario united towards sensible decision making."
Supritim (24), a scientist who works for environmental protection and conservation, told TNM said that it is high time we come out and address climate change issues and that more such Fridays must be organised. "Educating one another is extremely crucial - what’s the point of educating yourself if you don't educate others?" he argued.
Disha, a college graduate from Mount Carmel College and the FridaysForFuture coordinator for Bengaluru said, "Even in the recent Lok Sabha elections, none of the parties had any environmental plans or policies to implement as campaign points. It is clear that the government has turned a blind eye towards the climate emergency. We are currently under the 6th mass extinction and we have less than 12 years before the climate change becomes irreversible”. Disha added that this protest is an attempt to involve people at the grass root level and catch the government’s attention to make some changes.
The protesters made the following demands to the government:
1. Declare a climate emergency and the government will have to prioritize climate and ecological conditions while making policies and decisions
2. Commit to the Paris agreement (dealing with greenhouse-gas-emissions mitigation); the government has signed it but nothing yet is legally binding the government to follow it thus a law implemented that compels the government to follow the set measures
3. Follow the IPCC guidelines to introduce policies more carbon neutral so serve climate justice to keep the global temperature within 1.5 degree Celsius.
Protesters also individuals to take steps to reduce climate change. Some of the suggestions were:
1. Use more public transport.
2. Reduce consumption of plastic and carry water bottles everywhere to reduce the purchase of new bottles.
3. Increase segregation of waste and composting.
4. Be wary of animal agriculture, which is practiced unethically and is the leading cause of climate change.
5. Stop fast fashion, i.e., buying and shopping unnecessarily all the time, it causes landfills.
6. Actively participate in public decision making by voting and be aware of personal resource utilisation.
According to the organisers, people from 14 different locations in India participated in this protest for climate. This was the second such protest in Bengaluru; the first one happened on March 15. Organisers had then said that they would protest every Friday until the central and state governments implement politics to tackle global warming and climate change.
Fridays for future is also petitioning Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change to declare a national climate emergency, and for the Indian government to implement rigorous policies to address the issue. See the petition here. To sign a petition, you can give a missed call to 910-850-7191.