By Maximilian Czekalla
On Friday afternoon 15 of March, cars and public transport in Geneva downtown had to make space for a group of thousands of people protesting for climate action. As part of the movement “Global Climate Strike for Future”, a mixed crowd of mostly young, but also several older people, gathered in the afternoon at 2pm near the train station Cornavin at Place des Vingt-Deux-Cantons to start a ca. 2-hour march towards Place de Neuve.
The event was characterized by a peaceful atmosphere and enthusiastic participants raising up their colorful banners to call for action on climate change. The slogans were catchy and varied from more provocative ones such as “Change the System, not the Climate” and “Act Now or Swim Later” to funny ones like “Join the Green Side” (including a Darth Vader face) or “The Less Young for Climate Change”. The Environmental Committee of the Graduate Institute was present at the strike with around 25 students.
After a couple of minutes spent at the meeting point, the cheerful crowd slowly marched towards the Mont Blanc bridge, accompanied by the police. These were not the only ones accompanying the protestors, but there was also a big trailer provided by the event´s organizers equipped with megaphones and speakers to cheer up the group with music and easy-to-sing battle cries. On the bridge itself, the protestors collectively sat down to demonstrate a reflective moment of silence. Back on their feet, the climate activists walked through the busy shopping streets of Rue du Rhone and Rue du Rive in the Old Town. The longer the walk carried on, the louder the crowd became singing passionately its two protest songs: “on est plus chaud, plus chaud, plus chaud que le climat” and “et 1, et 2, et 3 degrés, c´est un crime contra l´humanité”…
The shopping area, where lots of luxury brands and banks are located, was also where the march received its maximum of external attention. Surrounding people who were either inside the buildings, working or shopping, were staring at the crowd seemingly impressed. Many of these people pulled out their phones to take photos or film the crowd. The masses gathered at the end of the march on Place de Neuve. The Environmental Committee took a group photo before the people slowly spread out again – but the demands remain on the agenda.
To sum up, the well-organized climate strike in Geneva was a full success. The event was an orderly but passionate protest to call global leaders to commit to climate action, and was not only carried out by the youth but was also joined by parents and grandparents of the future generation.