Climate Strike during Corona: „We go onto the streets anyways“

Covid-19 is the biggest challenge ever? Wait for the climate crisis. Three climate activists report what they are doing to keep protest going on.

plakate formen Schriftzug #Fight every crisis

„We need to do more than take a picture of ourselves and post it.“ Global strike, Berlin 24-4-2020 Foto: dpa

Anna Conradie: „In South Africa our biggest worry is drought.“

„Without Corona, I probably would have had fundraising events for „artivists“. “Artivists“ is an organization I founded to use art as a means of protesting to draw people outside of the climate movement into the climate movement.

porträt von anna Conradie vor Sonnenuntergang

18 year old Anna Conradie lives in Jo'burg, South Africa Foto: privat

Since we could not do that, I set up some meetings for a youth think tank I also founded. We work with a bunch of high polluters here in South Africa on how they can make their companies more environmentally friendly. How it works is, that I contact big corporates, tell them that we want to work with them and not destruct them or anything until we finally meet. It took me nearly a year to get a meeting with one big company we now work with. So that is how I started to get involved in the climate movement last year in May. I started joining strikes and organized a national school climate strike.

We were planning to do another one this year, but because of Corona that plan shifted. It is very difficult to make people understand that this is a very big issue, it is something that we need to act on rapidly.

I think where you come from defines how you see issues and how you understand them. Here in South Africa, we have the richest square mile next to the poorest. So, I think the youth in Africa sees climate issues a lot different than European activists, we call them „the West“. African activists feel very strongly about social justice, because poverty and injustice is on every corner of our hometowns.

In terms of the climate crisis though, our biggest worry is drought! Last year, two regions were declared by the UN as “national disaster zones“. They did not have water for four month! We should have enough water but because of lack of infrastructure, it causes us to lose about 40 per cent of water that should go to homes. So our biggest concern is the fact that drought will affect all of our subsistence farmers. If we do not act rapidly, it will impact all of our rural areas, people will lose all their livelihood.“

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Anastasija Sergienko: „In Russia the biggest problem we are facing are fires.“

porträt von Anastasija Sergienko

Anastasija Sergienko lives in Moscow, Russia Foto: privat

„I started to be a climate activist with Fridays for Future in Russia last September. One night I saw a speech by Greta and the next thing I sat on the floor drawing a sign for the strike on the next day. Since then I have striked on 16 fridays. Fridays for Future in Russia is not very big. When I started we were about 700 people from 34 cities. I live in Moscow and here we need agreements from the government to do mass strikes. They deny it to us most of the times. So we go onto the street anyways, but only one person can strike at a time and the others wait with their signs in their bags. We call this form of protest “single picket queue“ in Russia. We put pictures of our strikes into the social networks and explain different topics related to the climate crisis there and I think this gives us more visibility. So right now we are in self-isolation and strike online only.

All around the world people are forced – or at least urged – to stay at home. What does this mean for the global climate movement? The taz Klimahub is trying to find out. Leonie Sontheimer and Céline Weimar-Dittmar ask climate activists from all countries live on taz Instagram-Channel. The interviews are also available on IGTV and on

In my opinion, the biggest problem we are facing at the moment are fires. There is an awful tradition of burning grass. People think that helps the new grass to grow. And they also think that burning the grass helps to prevent forest fires. But thats not true. They are causing the fires. And we have a huge problem with smoldering peat fires. They produce a lot of smoke but you dont see flames so they are difficult to discover. So what I and other people do is monitor the spots of the fires on my computer and mark them on the map. I send this information to the volunteer firemen and they take our spots in the navigation system and know directly where to go.

But I still fear that we will have an australian extent of fires in the summer. And the second issue we as a movement struggle with, is that government and people dont want to quit oil and fossil energies and build up renewable energy. Russia is a oil and gas country. And the arguments against renewables are stupid. They say windmills are dangerous for birds. Yes. But oil, gas and coal are dangerous for health, nature and our future. We should put solar panels on the top of our houses instead of bringing in the oil and coal from far away. It would be better to have renewable energies surrounding our big cities. One day I want to see windmills from my window. I might put it there myself.

porträt von Xiye Bastida

Xiye Bastida lives in New York, USA Foto: privat

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Xiye Bastida: „We need to make sure that we know what has worked, what has not worked and what we have to get to work.“

„I live in Manhattan, New York, almost at the heart of the city and in the middle of the epicenter of the pandemic. I spend my days inside, doing homework and activism and at the same time hearing the ambulances going and going. I dont go outside, I dont want to risk other people or myself.

I am one of the lead organizers of Fridays for Future in New York City and we havent been on the streets for seven weeks now. If we want other people to listen to the science, we need to do so as well. We do the same thing as Fridays for Future international: keeping the community going with digital strikes.

But to ensure that climate activism works I think we need to to more than take a picture of ourselves and post it. Thats why I started It began as a campaign but now has become a youth organisation. We teach people about different aspects of the climate crisis and how they can get involved on an individual and systemic way. Each week we are focussing on a certain topic. This week its the global water crisis. Then there will be a plastic week, a food week, a fashion week. All the resources will be available on our website.

When we climate activists hear politicians say “we should go back to normal“ we shake our heads. The normal means burning fossil fuels, it means keep exploiting the planet, keep polluting. And that can not be the normal. I dont know how that became the normal. I come from an indigenous background, my dad is Otomi, which is an indigenous group in Mexico. I lived in Mexico until I was 13 years old. My relationship with the earth has always been: I take care of the earth. It gives us everything we need and all that it asks is that we protect it. When I saw that the normal for the world was destroying, contaminating and polluting, I decided to try and change.

My parents met at the first Earth Summit in Rio 1992. 10 years before I was born. My dad has been a public speaker and I learned it from him. I learned to speak from my heart. To speak from what I care about and to give all my thoughts this kind of energy. The first time I spoke publicly was when my dad was invited to Mauritia to a UN conference and couldnt go, so he sent me. I was 15 and I saw that people were impressed when a young voice brought up climate.

As kids we think that we are the first ones to think that the planet has to be protected. Obviously this has been going on for a long time. We need to make sure that we know what has worked, what has not worked and what we have to get to work. This is why I'm going to go to university for the next four years to study environmental studies, concentrating on policy and international relations.“

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