Dhaka, BANGLADESH – A lively scene unfolded outside Dhaka’s National Press Club recently, as a gathering of students from schools and universities joined to demand stop funding of fossil fuel.
Despite being a weekend, a stretch of the road was filled with young activists chanting powerful slogans like “Fund our future,” and “Save our Future.”
Hundreds of young climate activists organized the Sept. 15 climate strike in Dhaka as a part of the Global Climate Strike organized by Fridays for Future.
The Global Climate Strike has been organized annually since 2019.
This year, Bangladesh saw the Global Climate Strike organized in 25 districts around the nation.
Environmental groups and youth movements organized the action. This year’s Global Climate Strike marks the fifth anniversary of the movement which was started by prominent climate activist Greta Thunberg.
In Dhaka, at 9:30 p.m., the strike started, and within just 30 minutes, the vicinity outside the National Press Club transformed into a vibrant display of banners and signs, as climate advocates from various backgrounds united in participation.
According to a report by the United Nations Development Programme, Bangladesh is susceptible to both natural disasters and the impacts of climate change.
It was ranked as the seventh most extreme disaster risk-prone country in the world, according to the findings of the Global Climate Risk Index for the year 2021.
The strike this year called for stopping the funding of fossil fuel, a shift towards renewable energy alternatives and a boost in climate funding to address the climate emergency.
“We cannot afford to add more fuel to the fire,” said Bangladeshi climate activist Sohanur Rahman in a press release distributed at the event by his organization YouthNet. “The era of new fossil fuels is over. Our future depends on leaving them in the ground.”
As the activists marched toward Shaheed Minar, a national monument in the capital, curious onlookers turned their gaze toward the lively procession chanting demands for climate action.
Rifat Anik, a young climate documentary filmmaker who was present during the strike, said, “Being here in the climate strike for the first time made me experience how important these actions are. We might think one strike won’t change much, but when cities around the world do the same, it sends a big message to those in charge, especially the big energy companies.”
In the city of Cox’s Bazar in another part of Bangladesh, where coastal communities face heightened vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, a group of climate activists also orchestrated a climate strike.
As climate change causes more extreme weather patterns, vulnerable communities in Cox’s Bazar can be the first to bear the brunt.
It is one of the most climate-vulnerable areas and faces challenges such as extreme rainfall, landslides, and flash floods.
Adding to the complexity of the threat to Cox’s Bazar, it is home to nearly one million Rohingya refugees, according to the United Nations Refugee Fund, making it the largest refugee camp in the world.
“Climate policy should not be dictated by corporate interests,” said Jimran Mohammad Saiak, one of the climate activists in Cox’s Bazar, in an interview with Youth Journalism International. “It’s high time we prioritize both people and the planet. We won’t permit the fossil fuel industry to control our future.”
Usraat Fahmidah is a Reporter with Youth Journalism International.