“Since that day, Fridays have never been the same.” #FridaysForFuture’s Ander Congil climate strikes in Spain
June 28, 2019
By Ander Congil
My name is Ander and I am a fourth-year student with a double degree in Biology and Environmental Sciences at the University of Girona. I would like to tell you my story about the relationship I have with climate activism and hopefully convince you of the importance of this climate crisis for the future of humanity.
My day-to-day always that of a university student who spent a lot of time around campus until one Friday – January 18 – when I joined with students to decide to stand in the Generalitat of Girona to help carry a movement that we had been following for weeks on the internet.
We had watched Greta Thunberg’s #FridaysForFuture movement for weeks before my colleagues and I decided to act. But since that day, Fridays have never been the same. My days aren’t as calm and relaxed as before. This is due in large part to my growing climate activism.
The first few weeks of strikes were very calm – At the beginning there were almost always there were 5 of us, so it was not a big change in my daily life: wake up, go to class, leave early from class and meet at 12:30 in front of the Generalitat with Fridays For Future (F4F) signs. As the news spread via the F4F social networks, however, we began to grow, gathering more than a hundred people regularly. Then my Fridays became days that I did not attend class.
If we normally spent 100% of our time to fighting climate change, on Fridays, we dedicated 200%. Those Fridays have become nonstop – a lot of media presence, a lot of connections and communication with activists from different parts of the country and even from around the world. Without expecting it, we had grown exponentially – In Spain, this exponential growth culminated in a March 15 climate strike with almost 50,000 people taking to the streets to denounce political inaction on the climate crisis and to fight for a better future. It was a success. I had hope again.
I say I had hope again because before that day I was not very optimistic about the current environment crisis that we are experiencing. It was surprisingly sad to observe how a transcendental issue like the climatic emergency has been ignored. Greta was what we, thousands of young people, needed to show the whole world – that ignoring a problem does not make it disappear, it makes it worse. That the time to wait without doing nothing was over – either we act, or we say goodbye to our future.
I, personally, do not intend to argue or debate about the consequences that the climate crisis will have, or whether the climate crisis is manmade or not. For me, entering this type of debate is like debating whether gravity exists or not. Instead, I talk about consequences – Spain is the most vulnerable country in the European Union to climate change, which means it’s for us to be one of the pioneering countries in environmental policies.
What scares me is that our climate emergency is getting really bad and the magnitude will increase really fast. We’re running out of time and at this point, the government does not show any signs of improvement adopting the change that it should, so we must continue fighting harder than ever to change this. Climate activism is demonstrating that environmental policies can be changed from social pressure, that’s why we should not stop. Just take strength and keep pushing, because this is our future.
I always keep in my head a phrase that, if we all followed, would be very easy to combat this climate crisis: “Leave the place better than found it.” It can even be just a little better, but it’s not enough to leave our world as you found it. It has to be better; we cannot afford to do nothing. We all have to put everything we can on our side, it’s an emergency situation. It is precisely this thought that leads me to get involved in climate activism.
If you’ve made it this far, I am sure you are already involved in climate activism. So the only thing I’ll ask you is not to give up and to keep transmitting your strength to fight because your power is contagious and we need it.
Keep up the fight!
Follow Ander on Twitter at @AnderCongilRoss