Greta Thunberg, born on Jan. 3, 2003, suddenly burst into the scene on Aug. 20, 2018, at 15 years old then, and the fight to address climate change has taken on new vivacity. She took time off from school to single-handedly demonstrate outside the Swedish Parliament because she told the politicians in her blunt way: “You are not doing enough.”

Her action was caught by the social media. She protested by sitting outside the Riksdag (Swedish Parliament) every day for three weeks during school hours with the sign Skolstrejk för klimatet (school strike for the climate). She also handed out leaflets that stated: “I am doing this because you adults are shitting on my future.”

By December 2018, more than 20,000 students had held strikes in at least 270 cities all over the world. From that time on she has spoken to world parliamentarians and business people without sparing her words. She told the British parliament in London: “You lied to us. You gave us false hope. You told us that the future was something to look forward to.”

People are now talking of the Greta Thunberg Effect. The movement is snowballing. People are taking drastic steps. When your house is burning you cannot just stand by and reason out. You have to act! And that is what people are doing now. On Sept. 20 the 2019 climate strikes, also known as the Global Week for Future, took place. It was a series of international strikes and protests to demand action to address climate change.

The protests are taking place across 4,500 locations in 150 countries. It is a continuing strike till Sept. 27. More than four million people have participated in the strikes. Adults are joining the children in the Climate Strikes. These events are part of the school strike for climate movement, inspired by Thunberg.

In the Philippines a total of 17 strikes were registered. Filipino activists also marched in honor of those who were killed for defending the environment. It was reported in 2018 that the Philippines was the deadliest country for those defending the environment.

Strikes are good. This shows that people, even young children, are standing up. However, the governments and big companies are uncommitted. So climate advocacy should move up to the next level. Big companies who are the main polluters should be hit where it hurts them most. They guard most their name and their money.

We therefore call for a boycott of their products and divestment from the financial institutions that support them. Seventy percent of investments on dirty fossil fuel are support by BDO, BPI and Metrobank.

We ask these banks to fund renewable energy which are cheaper and cleaner, rather than oil or coal powered plants. We ask Camella  and Ayala to stop converting farms and ancestral domain lands of indigenous peoples for their housing projects.

We ask San Miguel Corp. to get out of dirty coal and the Kaliwa dam project. We call on DMCI to stop coal mining on Semirara island. If they do not listen we should initiate boycott calls of their products. It cannot be that business and government continue to reap profit while our common home is on fire!

Broderick Pabillo

September 24, 2019