By Lauren Rearick
There’s no denying that global warming has already played a factor in some damage to our planet, including powerful hurricanes, ravaged ecosystems in Australia, and extreme weather events like the recent European heatwave. Experts warned that “a revolution” is needed to prevent further irreversible environmental harm — and young people are taking up the fight.
On Friday, September 20, climate activists and companies alike are expected to converge in thousands of global protests and demand that politicians take action to end the global climate crisis. The United States is expected to host more than 500 of those protests, as participants come together for a weeklong Global Climate Strike.
The seven days of action are directly influenced by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old activist who has held weekly protests outside of Swedish parliament since August 2018. As part of her work, Greta has urged politicians and corporations to do their part in the fight against the climate crisis, especially given that pollution is largely exacerbated by major corporations that rarely, if ever, feel repercussions for their waste.
But it seems that big names could begin holding themselves even more accountable. In addition to Friday’s civilian protest, Fast Company reported that businesses including Lush, Patagonia, Ben & Jerrys, Allbirds, and Kickstarter are expected to participate in some form of a strike. Some companies will “go green” and participate in a digital strike with a message that announces their support of the climate strike on their websites, while Lush announced plans to close for the day, which enables employees to participate in protests.
Carleen Pickard, the ethical campaigns specialist at Lush, told MTV News that Greta’s continued work had inspired the company to join in the strike. As the brand announced in a press release, stores and headquarters will close on September 20 in the U.S. and on September 27 in Canada. “With Greta and the other youth activists’ invitation to join them out in the street, we certainly wanted to step up and accept that invitation. It’s incredibly important to be part of that conversation as a business, and to also disrupt business as usual,” Pickard said.
As for Ben & Jerrys, a company spokesperson explained its participation includes a digital banner encouraging visitors to participate in a climate strike, as well as delayed openings or completely closing stores so that employees can participate, and shutting down manufacturing facilities in Vermont and the Netherlands for the day. “We recognize that climate change is an existential threat to our planet and all its inhabitants, so we are proud to stand with the youth-led movement, demanding bold action in response to the climate emergency,” the company said in a statement.
Corporations have long been scrutinized for their contributions to the climate crisis, and Tamara Toles O’Laughlin, 350.org’s North America Director, stressed the importance of businesses participating in the strike. “We know that it’s going to take all of us to make the changes necessary to preserve our future,” O’Laughlin told MTV News. “The willingness to disrupt the norm is an indicator that the time has come for everyone, especially global leaders, to get out of their comfort zones to ensure that communities around the world can thrive with clean air [and] water, and are safe from the worst of the climate crisis.”
Two-thirds of Americans believe the climate crisis must be addressed immediately, according to a CBS News poll, and science is backing that response: Already significant climate change is occurring around the world, NASA reports, including rising temperatures, broken ice in the Antarctic, longer wildfire seasons, and bleaching coral reefs. As NASA reports, not all of those impacts will be reversible, so the time to take action is now.