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Opinion | ‘Students must march for climate justice’

Jimmy Thomson,
8 maart 2019 - 12:40

‘As students and beneficiaries of the education system, we must take to the streets’, says UvA student Jimmy Thomson (anthropology).

This Sunday, March 10th, is the March for Climate Justice, a collaborative imitative organised in Amsterdam by Milieudefensie and numerous other socio-environmental justice groups.


As students and beneficiaries of the education system, we have a moral obligation to inform others of the state of the climatic emergency we are in. We must take to the streets to help safeguard a habitable planet. United, we have the power to make the government listen; and in doing so, demand that which is necessary for it to satisfy its duty to keep us safe.

Foto: Privéarchief
Jimmy Thomson

Amsterdam students will be marching in the youth bloc along with many other groups. Will you march with us for climate justice? To defend life on Earth and to preserve the future of our planet?


A major catalysis for our climactic crisis is the relentless anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases. These have caused atmospheric carbon dioxide levels to reach their highest level for about 800,000 years. The consequences are frightening. A recent report states that ‘since 1950, the number of floods across the world has increased by 15 times, extreme temperature events by 20 times, and wildfires sevenfold’. Last year this meant that 28.9 million people needed emergency assistance or humanitarian aid because of extreme weather. Models based on current emission mitigation make for even grimmer reading. Temperatures will increase further, amplifying a scenario known as ‘runaway climate change’ whereby mitigation becomes impossible. As students, this could happen in our lifetime.

We can no longer afford to turn our backs and think — hope — that someone else will solve the problem. We can no longer afford to be apathetic

Ecological breakdown is without doubt the greatest challenge in human history. And yet a lack of significant action for nearly 30 years has propelled us towards a cliff-edge. Governments are not doing enough, and the Dutch government is no exception. Carbon dioxide emissions in the Netherlands were the same in 2017 as in 1990. The Netherlands is also the second worst performing country in the EU when it comes to generating energy from renewable sources.


The climate crisis is just one of many converging crises that intersect all aspects of life. We need to take it seriously. We can no longer afford to turn our backs and think — hope — that someone else will solve the problem. We can no longer afford to be apathetic. We must stop framing solutions as individual life choices. Each one of us must take responsibility and act to engender the change we need. It is only through collective action that we can force governments to act and make those most accountable pay the cost of dealing with it. To put it simply, just 100 companies are responsible for 71 per cent of global emissions.


This Sunday we can collectively co-create a new storyline for humanity. As students, we must make good our position of privilege and act. By marching, we can help steer the ship of humanity to calmer water and a more hopeful future for people and planet.