Youth for Our Planet | News

Why did I start climate striking?

BACKGROUND INFORMATION: Age: 14 years old - Born on November 25th 2004 Name: David Henry Francis Wicker Family: 1 older sister who is studying in Germany Studies: Second year of High School - Advanced Sciences oriented High School Articles on Me: https://docs.google.com/document/d/17cEYGScDibzUB6JtDHBvewsLQrWsJMCgtKDsmmoowoo/edit?usp=sharing MY STORY I started school striking at the beginning of January 2019. It was a crazy thing, and it was perceived under different views by people and by my own teachers. Why did I start school striking? Because I felt suffocated. Before I started to get informed, I was aware of something teachers called “Global Warming”, which was described in 1 page of my geography book. But it was described as a solved issue. The way people talked about climate change, it seemed as everything was already “solved” and that the institutions and governments of the world were taking care of it. THE BEGINNING After watching Greta’s speech at the United Nations, I read the IPCC report on the 1.5°C and watched documentaries of David Attenburough and did a small online course on edx on global heating. I had come to learn what was actually happening with our climate. I felt as my own rights were being infringed, and I had no way to release this anger out of me. But fortunately, I do have the possibility to express my opinion. I consider myself a privileged kid, and it would be an insult to those who do not have the same possibilities I have, not to fight for climate justice. And it turns out, the best way to attract attention for us schoolchildren, is to actually “skip” school. So I did it. I joined a group of older students (two girls from university) and together we formed the first “Fridays For Future Torino” chat. On the first Friday of January, we struck. We went into the center of Turin and we just sat in the middle of a plaza with a couple of signs. Some people started taking pictures of us, I remember. We didn’t think of this school strike as something that was going to last long, I personally didn't think we would ever be able to bring any change. But as the weekly strikes continued, the people who joined us were more and more. One friday, we reached over 300 strikers with us. We were indeed slowly bringing a change. In the middle of January, I also got in contact with other activists all over italy, and we formed the “Fridays For Future Italia” group. At the same time, I got in contact with activists from Sweden and other countries, and together we formed the international level of Fridays For Future. Known activists I work with often: Luisa Neubauer from Germany, Anuna De Wever from Belgium, Lily Platt from the Netherlands, Alexandria Villasenor from the USA, Greta Thumberg from Sweden, and many many more activists from many countries! EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT + FIRST GLOBAL STRIKE On the 13th of March I was invited to the European Parliament, along other 59 activists from 20 different european countries. We were invited to attend the climate debate at the parliament and to have a press release shortly after. I was stunned to see with my own eyes how the debate in the european Parliament went: It lasted only 45 minutes, because they had to talk about Brexit. Only 45 minutes dedicated to the most urgent problem of our time, in order to leave more time to other smaller and - to this perspective - insignificant issues. So we organized the first “Global Strike For Future”, the first strike/demonstration with a global extension. People all over the world, fighting for the same cause. We were able to bring to the streets of Italy over 475.000 people. Over 30.000 people in Turin. We, as organizers of these strikes, couldn't believe what we had achieved. Little did we know, THAT was only the beginning. INVITE TO THE SENATE In April, a huge news reached all italian newspapers: Greta Thunberg was going to come to Italy. The Italian Senate of the Republic invited me to the Senate as representative of the italian Fridays For Future movement, and together with Greta Thunberg we went into the Senate. She held a speech in front of the committee, while I gave some interviews to the italian press. It was the first time I met Greta SECOND GLOBAL STRIKE + EU PARLIAMENT OCCUPATION On the 24th of May we held the Second Global Strike For Climate. Our numbers doubled globally. We had captured the attention of media outlets all over the world. On the 24th of May, I had travelled to Brussels for the international demonstration that happened there, as the “delegate” activist from the italian movement. After the demonstrations, we thought to bring it a step further. It was the day before the European Elections, and we had to capture all the attention we could and raise awareness about the climate emergency as much as we could. So we Occupied the European Parliament, and I was the youngest activist there. My parents were still in Italy - they don’t accompany me when I travel for activism, so I travel alone across Europe. It is itself a really long story to tell, so I will not go into details, but I will mention that after the occupation, which lasted 25 hours straight, day and night, we were able to make the delegate of the parliament come down to talk to us, and we gave him a statement from our movement. SMILE MEETING While everyone in Europe was on vacation, we organized our second International meeting, to find common ground, values and goals as a global movement. I was part of the italian delegation for the meeting, and I was in the ending press conference of the meeting. THIRD GLOBAL STRIKE In the week between the 20th and 27th of September, we held the biggest mobilisation that the climate movement had ever seen. Over 8 million people joined the demonstrations worldwide. In My city where I organized the strike in, we brought to the streets over 150.000 people! All of Italy counted over 1.1 million strikers! It was a huge success, which gave us a lot of visibility. In my city we were able to make a motion and get it voted to Declare Climate and Environmental Emergency - this motion passed! Now the local institutions have to give us a report every 2 months, detailing everything the city has done to lower emissions. But even the Third Global Strike was not the end of the movement. We are already organizing a net one, which will happen on the 29th of November worldwide. The aim of this next global strike is to put pressure on the COP 25 in Madrid- Conference of Parties - organized by the UNFCCC. MORE ON Other than the weekly strikes and Global Mobilisations, we organize lots of activities to bring attention to different aspects of the climate emergency. Just 2 weeks ago, I organized a meeting with the Town Mayor and the University of Turin, to bring voices to the indigenous leaders of the Amazon Rainforest, who are getting killed by people wanting to gain more land to plant Soil, in order to grow RED MEAT production. People whose territories are getting destroyed by the meat Industry. After having joined the movement, a lot has changed in my own life. I no longer have “free afternoons”. I spend all my time organizing, doing international conferences and coordination meetings. Due to different time-zones, I often go to sleep at 4:00 in the morning, and in order to follow up on my school work I often do not sleep at all. It is a sacrifice I am willing to make. Also I have implemented some good habits: I no longer use plastic bottles, nor straws and I try to buy food with as least plastics as possible - unfortunately in italy everything is wrapped in layers and layers of plastics, so this is very hard - I no longer take planes and I am pushing my parents so they do the same. Whenever I have to travel, I make sure to use public transport and to take trains or busses instead of planes, even if it means travelling 10 hours in a bus, I am willing to do it - and I have already done it more than once. Some articles on me: https://docs.google.com/document/d/17cEYGScDibzUB6JtDHBvewsLQrWsJMCgtKDsmmoowoo/edit?usp=sharing