Climate strikes: ‘Times are tough, but it’s not about giving up’

It was September 2019, in another world: nearly 100,000 people marched in Bern for a more ambitious climate policy. Three and a half years later, this Tuesday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) sounded an alarm bell that has become worn out as it has already been used. Without arousing the expected interest. While a new “strike” is planned for Saturday – which has become a “strike for the future” by diversifying into other militant horizons (feminism, trade unionism, working time) – The weather met Anja Gada, a Zurich activist from the Klimastreik and campaign leader.

“Le Temps”: Has the pandemic killed the climate movement?

The health crisis has certainly not helped. The climate has moved into second place of concern behind the virus, and now behind war. This is understandable. Even if it is unfortunately obvious that the climate crisis will cause even greater damage. In general, I must say that there is also less commitment to the movement. A little less energy.


After years of work, the result achieved is weak. Despite early euphoria, huge media coverage and the green wave in the last federal election, climate policy has changed little. The objectives discussed by the decision-makers are still just as distant, the policies put in place still just as weak. There is fatigue, discouragement. We try to revive ourselves with different actions [convergence des luttes au sein de la grève pour l’avenir] for our demands to be implemented.

What about Zurich?

We are voting on May 15 at the municipal level on a goal of climate neutrality by 2040. However, the IPCC has just given governments eight years (by 2030) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 %, if we want to reach the goal of 1.5 degrees provided for by the Paris Agreements. So it’s not going. I don’t understand why such a rich city has such weak ambitions. The Climate Strike, however, supports the project, in the absence of a better proposal.

Morale does not seem to be in good shape… What mobilization do you expect on Saturday?

I don’t want to give an estimate. We’ll see. But I emphasize that there is still envy. When we take part in a strike, we know why we are doing it. And for whom. These meetings are important to the people who come to them. In this case, the working population. The reduction in working time, requested this Saturday, would change our pace of life to allow more time for social commitment. This is essential in times of climate crisis. These gatherings give hope and there is no denying that they have had an impact. Times are tough, but this is not about giving up.

Can the war in Ukraine paradoxically help an energy transition?

Without instrumentalizing the current atrocities [Anja Gada est également active au sein du Groupe pour une Suisse sans Armée], it is obvious that the war demonstrates the dangers of a dependence on fossil fuels, the risks of trading with dictatorships, the role of Switzerland in the trading of raw materials. If we want to live in a peaceful and climate-friendly world, we must free ourselves from these types of energies. Climate protection is a prevention against war.

Can the current rise of the green liberals in Switzerland move the front lines at the climate level?

I do not think so. I consider that ecology must be linked to social policies. However, the Green Liberals have always shown that they care more about money than people. In the cantonal parliament, for example, they voted against the proposal for parental leave (also put to the vote in the canton on May 15). While it seems obvious to me that a more egalitarian world, less profit-oriented and more attentive to humans and their needs is necessary to find ecological solutions. Contrary to what this party claims, technology does not solve everything.

Why not make the Climate Strike a party?

There is no discussion in this direction. We position ourselves from the outside, we make people aware, but we also have to see the reality of things: our movement is above all made up of very young people, without money, often in training. Becoming a party would require resources that we don’t have. But even without the institutional base of a party, we have acquired a certain legitimacy. As Antonio Guterres says [secrétaire général de l’ONU]: “Climate activists are sometimes portrayed as dangerous radicals. But the really dangerous radicals are the countries that increase the production of fossil fuels.”

At 20, you are already one of the “old hands” of the movement. How do you see its future?

The pandemic has prevented the transmission of knowledge to the youngest, but the movement continues. What we really need now is for other generations to participate. There are a few seniors, but it remains a small minority. As for the waves experienced by our formation, that does not seem abnormal to me. There are ups and downs but the existential risk posed by the climate crisis remains. Our movement therefore has a future. Street pressure is needed to drive change.

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