Uproot the System!

On the 24th of September, climate activists around the world will unite for a global strike based around  #UprootTheSystem. But what does it exactly mean?

When we say Uproot The System, the climate movement puts an emphasis on the intersectionality of the climate crisis. The dominance of the Global North over MAPA (most affected people and areas) through different systems, such as: colonialism, discrimination, and climate injustice – and particularly the Global North’s outsized contribution to global emissions, is at the root of this crisis. Without listening to MAPA, embracing intersectionality, and uprooting this system, we have no hope of stopping the climate crisis. As the published narrative of the strike states, “Other socio-economic crises such as racism, sexism, ableism, class inequality, and more amplify the climate crisis and vice versa. It is not just a single issue, our different struggles and liberations are connected and tied to each other.”

Mitzi Jonelle Tan, a climate activist from the Philippines says –

“With both the COVID, climate, and every crisis in history, overexploited countries and marginalized sectors of society are systematically left behind to fend for themselves. The time to join the masses and follow the lead of our environmental defenders and workers has been long overdue.”

Mitzi Jonelle Tan, climate activist from the Philippines

The narrative of the climate strike was developed collectively by FFF International, particularly by FFF MAPA, with MAPA groups such as Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines working together to ensure that “no-one is left behind”. As MAPA Activist Maria Reyes puts it –

 “When we always say things like system change and how we need to go deeper, to understand that the climate crisis intersects with different social inequalities and amplifies its effects. Uproot The System is a more specific way of changing the system, Because to change the system we have to tackle it from the roots, from the beginning and those roots are capitalism, imperialism and more.”

Maria Reyes, MAPA Climate Activist

The core of the narrative can be divided into six main points: vaccine injustice, climate refugees, Indigenous peoples, varying climate responsibilities, climate reparations, and social impacts on minority groups.

1. Vaccine Injustice

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccine injustice is a pressing current issue that highlights the inequality between the Global North and MAPA. This inequality is also present in every facet of the climate crisis, because vaccine inequality isn’t just about vaccines – it is a symptom of the wider issue of MAPA being devalued and allocated less resources on the global stage, making it harder for them to mitigate health crises such as the current pandemic and future climate-linked diseases and disasters. In addition, vaccine injustice impacts the ability of MAPA to participate in important climate decision-making forums such as the upcoming COP26, which is only admitting fully-vaccinated participants.

2. Climate refugees

In 2020, 3 million people were displaced due to climate disasters – yet international law does not recognise climate refugees. The 1951 Refugee Convention does not recognise climate refugees at all. Furthermore, the refugees are often from MAPA, which means that even prior to being displaced, they are facing increased levels of systemic marginalisation. This exacerbates the impacts of the crises on them. It is essential that the experiences of climate refugees inform any future climate action, starting with international recognition!

3. Indigenous Peoples

Indigenous peoples protect over 80% of the global biodiversity. But the fossil fuel industry is stealing their lands and destroying the ecology around which their cultures rely. Around 40% of the world’s plant species are currently at risk of extinction due to climate change, and deforestation is responsible for 10% of the global CO2 emissions. Indigenous peoples are fighting for their homes, their culture, their way of life in sync with mother nature. Without working with and listening to Indigenous activists, our attempts to avert the climate crisis will never succeed.

4. Varying climate responsibilities

It is essential that the Global North commits to greater emissions reductions than the Global South, as they are currently producing 92% of the planet’s excess carbon emissions and their systemic and historical exploitation of MAPA has fueled the climate crisis. But instead of addressing their systemic impacts, the global north chooses to push the blame on MAPA while simultaneously engaging in risky “net-zero” pathways. These include techniques which have not been proven effective enough and are damaging for the surrounding ecosystems and Indigenous people, such as untested carbon capture systems.

5. Climate Reparations

The Global North holds a climate debt to MAPA, both because of its historical exploitation of MAPA and its current excess contribution to climate change. Hence, the global flow of money must be redirected away from the global north and toward a green recovery – one that focuses on preparing the most affected to withstand those elements of the coming crisis that we cannot mitigate.

6. Social impacts on minority groups

The climate crisis will affect certain areas of the world more than others, but even within communities that are equally affected, social factors such as racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and ableism mean that certain people will feel the impacts more harshly than others. Any response to the climate crisis must listen to these different voices and take into account the additional struggles caused by the intersections of their identities. As Yusuf Baluch, a climate activist from Balochistan says –

Climate activism is (inherently) intersectional. We won’t be able to achieve climate justice when we ignore the communities affected by social, racial inequality and oppressed by the mighty oppressor!

Yusuf Baluch, a climate activist from Balochistan

So, now that you know the plan and why success is so essential – what next? The 24th is fast approaching and we need all the participation we can have. Prior to the day, you can check out our campaign page and download and repost the sharepics there! Also, don’t forget to change your profile picture using our profile picture generator

As for striking on the 24th with us, you don’t need to be a seasoned activist at all! If you want to participate in a local climate strike (or register one of your own!), check out the FFF strike map. Here is a guide to organising your own action in your neighbourhood!

Otherwise, you can always get involved online by digital striking with us on the day! Here’s a handy guide to digital striking. Don’t forget to tag @fridaysforfuture, @fff.digital and your local FFF chapter while posting your picture on social media. 

See you on the 24th as we collectively demand to #UprootTheSystem!

Written by:

  • Jahnavee Palsodkar (she/her)

    Climate and Environmental Justice activist from India

  • Adriana Calderón (she/they)

    Climate MAPA activist and feminist from Mexico.

  • Jessi Kitchen (he/any)

    British-Australian climate and social justice activist