CityNews – Chiang Mai residents took to the streets on Friday to march in support of action to tackle the climate crisis. This ended a week of global climate strikes which saw six million people across 185 countries walk out of schools and workplaces in protest. This was the biggest climate protest in history.
A year ago, Swedish school striker Greta Thunberg inspired children to follow her lead in strikes all over the world. For the first time, this youth movement was joined by strikers of all ages this week. Protests largely focused on cutting carbon emissions to stabilise our precarious climate, while many also targeted local issues, such as air pollution here in Chiang Mai.
The Chiang Mai protest had three main demands:
1. We don’t need new housing projects, new airports, new coal mining projects to boost economic growth. We demand action now to stop deforestation, protect biodiversity and natural habitats, without harming people’s livelihoods, especially indigenous and marginalised groups. Coal must remain the ground.
2.Big agro businesses should pay for the cost of pollution, not the poor, vulnerable and marginalised communities as they contribute the least to the climate crisis. Burning bans won’t work unless they target the polluters.
3. We need real solutions and policies to solve the environmental problems in Chiang Mai. A higher budget must be allocated to tackling the crisis. More human resources need to be mobilised. Solutions are needed to address the real causes. We must focus on people, not profit.
Protesters gathered at Three Kings Monument at 3 pm. Signs were made by those who came without one and statements were read which called for greater action by the Thai government. The protestors then began chanting: “What do we want? – Climate justice! When do we want it? – Now!” and “No more coal, no more oil, keep the carbon in the soil.” At 4 pm the group began its march to Thapae Gate, led by a band of saxophone and trumpet players. While marching, the protestors continued to chant. Locals and tourists stopped to watch the procession as it went by and some even joined the march. Once at Thapae Gate, protestors lay on the ground to embody the death of the planet and its people through ecological devastation. The atmosphere was positive throughout.
We asked some of the protestors to tell us why they attended the event:
“We want to raise awareness so that people in Thailand will care more about the environment. We want our children to have a future with good air. Today, we closed our shop early to come here because this is the most important issue we all face.”
–Gee and Jeab from Refill Hub at Jingjai Market
“This week at Varee we have been focusing solely on the climate crisis. Ordinary classes were cancelled and instead, every subject weaved the issue into their lessons. The week started with a trash clean up which was then followed by a clean up along the Ping River. We had a clothing swap, a plant-based potluck and a climate crisis ideas fare. Students undertook solo and group projects across the week and today there was an assembly where our students presented environmental literature, songs, skits, and more. We ended with a minutes silence to consider the cost of the crisis so far.
This week has been massive and was all done to educate the students about their role in the crisis and the action they can take in their own lives. Today I wanted to bring my students to the strike and support them. Greta has inspired everyone to show up and demand change.
Ultimately, I’m here because I care and I want the next generation to be able to experience the beauty of this planet that I’ve witnessed.”
–Helen, a teacher at Varee International School
“We have got to the stage where apathy and ignorance are no longer options. We need everyone to work together if we are to combat the climate crisis successfully. That is why I am here today calling for change.”
–Mike, a resident of Chiang Mai for eight years
“I came to support the movement. We’re all affected in some way and thing will only get worse unless something changes. I’m all about peace, love and freedom in life and this movement embodies these values.”
–McVandy, a volunteer in Chiang Mai
“I came as soon as I could after school to support the march and my students. I think all the students here today are unbelievable can make a real difference.”
–Marta, a teacher at Lanna International School