Department of Business Development and Technology

Contextualizing climate justice activism: Knowledge, emotions, motivations, and actions among climate strikers in six cities

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  • Mari Martiskainen, University of Sussex Business School
  • ,
  • Stephen Axon, Southern Connecticut State University
  • ,
  • Benjamin K. Sovacool
  • Siddharth Sareen, University of Bergen, University of Stavanger
  • ,
  • Dylan Furszyfer Del Rio, University of Sussex Business School, Imperial College London, Queen's University Belfast, Khalifa University of Science and Technology
  • ,
  • Kayleigh Axon, The Foote School

In August 2018, Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg started to strike from school on Fridays to protest against a lack of action on the climate crisis. Her actions sparked a historically large youth movement, leading to a series of school strikes across the world. Over the course of one week in September 2019, striking school children, students and other grassroots movements, such as Extinction Rebellion, called for everyone to participate in a global Climate Strike. This paper is based on comparative research with climate protesters in six cities: Brighton and London (United Kingdom), Montreal (Canada), New Haven and New York (USA), and Stavanger (Norway). Based on original interviews with 64 protesters, the study examines their knowledge, emotions, motivations, and actions in relation to climate change, including any lifestyle changes they have undertaken before or after their protests. Our findings show that protesters have varying degrees of knowledge about climate change, and have taken a range of actions in their own lives to address climate change. They also manifest a wide spectrum of emotions about climate change, and different motivations for taking part in climate strikes. These features are under-studied and dynamically evolving at the present conjuncture. On this basis, we call for expanded academic attention to human, emotional, epistemic, and seemingly mundane aspects of climate protests, their structural tendencies and relational expressions, and the implications for our ability to address underlying drivers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102180
JournalGlobal Environmental Change
Volume65
Number of pages18
ISSN0959-3780
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020

    Research areas

  • Climate protests, Climate strikes, Fridays for Future, Greta Thunberg, Social activism, Social movements

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