Katie Rodriquez via unsplash

Is environmentalism dying?

By Emma Cook

Will the decline in environmental protests kill the planet?

2019 and 2020 saw mass protests in support of climate action. Movements such as Fridays for Future and the Youth Climate Strike captured the public eye through international media. However, it now seems, from a national to local level, there is far less environmental protesting. 

The Fridays for Future movement, which started in 2019 and had significant momentum by 2020, suffered as the pandemic suspended physical environmental protests until late 2021. Whilst the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) which was held in Glasgow, and saw over 100,000 come out to protest alongside high profile environmental activists, such as Greta Thunberg, it may seem that, since COP26, the movement has, on the whole, struggled to maintain its 2020 momentum. Following the pandemic, rising inflation has led to a cost-of-living crisis – which became a dominant news narrative and a permanent fixture in the public eye.

Additionally, over the past few years, we seem to have seen an increase in other political and humanitarian protests. However, amid other important movements, have we forgotten about the environment? As recent humanitarian crises, including both the war in Ukraine and the war in Gaza, capture the public eye, through news coverage, it seems time for coverage of environmental issues has diminished. Across the country, pro-Palestinian protests attended by hundreds called for a ceasefire in Gaza. Understandably, humanitarian issues are dominating protests; but is this at the cost of environmentalism?

So, how can we protect the environment – whilst acknowledging other domestic and humanitarian concerns occurring globally? These are complex problems with no simple solutions. Amid a cost-of-living crisis at home and wars overseas, long-term global challenges, such as the climate crisis, may seem like a distant threat. As both Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, and opposition party leader, Sir Keir Starmer, seem to be turning away from their past commitments to the climate crisis, ahead of the upcoming General Election, there is the very real risk that the climate crisis will drop off the political agenda. 

However, despite these challenges, there is still steadfast support for the environment. To hear more about on-campus environmental efforts, I spoke to Molly Davidson, Glasgow University Environmental Sustainability Team (GUEST) coordinator, and a master’s student in Earth Futures at UofG. According to Molly: “Hope is never lost, but in need of a spark. Climate activism is about more than protecting our planet, it is an intersectional movement. Remembering this is key to maintaining public attention. 

“To sustain focus, GUEST has created projects that transcend the purely environmental – offering services that reduce both carbon emissions and the cost-of-living. Our Community Fridge and Student2Student Essentials initiatives are examples of this. On a wider scale, and considering the interminable presence of humanitarian crises, we must remember that the environmental movement itself is intertwined with social justice more broadly. Marching, boycotting, voting, and educating oneself on the environmental movement is also a step towards expansive global justice.”

Indeed, support for climate action across the world is high. The majority support pro-climate policy with an average global score of 72% when measured as an average across nine interventions including: carbon taxes, expanding public transport, renewable energy and protecting forests. As a society, we need to remember the importance of fighting for the environment alongside important social justice issues. Environmentalism must be kept alive for meaningful change. 


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Alfred Robert (AR) Hogan

The No. 1 climate crisis is THE topmost issue by far–as it has been for decades. Fridays For Future began, not in 2019, but in August-September 2018 by ace eco champion and ethical vegan Greta Thunberg, in Stockholm, Sweden. Climate “shoe strikes” continued throughout the COVID-19 global pandemic, without halting, with limited human attendees. In September 2023, some 75,000 climate action now protesters took to the streets in NYC, met with a US corporate media blackout. We need to END all wars and militaries, UPGRADE fast to a vegan world, STOP at once all new fossil fuels projects and rapidly phase out existing ones, HALT all nuclear fission power, ELECT pro-climate pro-peace pro-people progressive leaders such as Dr. Jill E. Stein of the US Green Party, etc. No other topic or problem or cause is as important–though some do intersect, such as the war-criminal Israeli genocide in Gaza and on Gazans. Ms. Emma Cook, while at least commendably writing on this most vital subject of all, is rather sadly misinformed on many aspects alas. As GT has often noted, the No. 1 climate crisis should be dominating newspapers and newscasts, day in and day out.