How to Weather the Current Climate Storm
Derek Terell Allen
President of LÍS
Landssamtök íslenskra stúdenta
Erla Guðbjörg Hallgrímsdóttir
Medical student at Aarhus Universitet
International Officer of LÍS
Landssamtök íslenskra stúdenta
Most of us are aware of the repercussions of climate change, but in the interest of reaching those less aware, we will provide a cliché, but unfortunately factual list of things happening on this planet:
Earth is getting warmer.
Ice is melting.
Weather conditions are getting more extreme by the day.
Pollution is rapidly increasing.
By the time the listing of all of the environmental horrors facing us is finished, humans would have to colonize Mars due to Earth’s inhospitable climate. As your close Nordic neighbors, we are just as aware as you are that climate change is wreaking havoc on society as we know it. Thankfully, Iceland is quite an ambitious nation when it comes to combating climate change and its terrible consequences. This is especially true of our nation’s young people, as we have let our voices be heard loud and clear. Although we do not know the specifics of the politics in the Faroese climate debate, we hope to be able to use our experience here in Iceland to inspire you and give you ideas as to what to do next.
LÍS has always aimed to be environmentally aware, but we got a huge opportunity to take this a step further in the beginning of 2019. That was when we joined forces with local environmentalists, human rights activists, and student representatives in both higher and secondary education in the Fridays for Future campaign. Every Friday at noon, we populated the space across from the Icelandic House of Parliament in an effort to get our representatives to take action on climate-related issues. Everyone brought their signs, chalk, and passion. Some of these climate strikes were bigger than others, with some of the bigger ones attracting hundreds of people, including politicians. We were clearly being seen, and this was a cause for celebration.
After having worked to bring attention to the climate crisis, we, in turn, got positive attention directed at our organization. Alongside the young powerhouses that we joined forces with at the start, we would go on to earn a litany of awards. In 2019, the Reykjavík City Mayor would go onto award us the title of “Eldhugar” in environmental issues. Towards the beginning of the following year, in order to better orient ourselves and our great work in this field, we crafted and approved our sustainability policy at our 2020 general assembly.
The falling action
Days after our 2020 general assembly, Iceland would succumb to COVID-19. While this obviously negatively affected our climate strikes being that people were discouraged from gathering, it also made it so that climate disaster was not the political issue occupying most people’s brains. This stopped us for a while and the movement was rather quiet. However, we eventually got back into the groove of things as there’s nothing Zoom can’t do. Electronic climate strikes, and eventually in-person strikes with masks and social distancing became the norm. At the end of 2020, we earned the coveted Jafnréttisviðurkenning from Iceland’s Equality Council. This award was a great way to pick the morale up at the end of a brutal year.
While attendance is not what it used to be, we are slowly building our way back up to the numbers we used to have. There have been a couple of bigger strikes since our valiant return, in which music boomed and vegan and/or soon-to-be disposed of food filled us up. We look forward to seeing how this new era of climate strikes evolve and hope to get people back on board with us.
Can we reach a resolution in this dilemma? Is it doable within 10 years? 50 years? In our lifetimes? Time will tell, but at LÍS, we maintain a sense of healthy optimism. While things do look bleak, we have a vision for the future that we hope comes to fruition.
On that note, what better way to end this column than with a chant. This chant is a mainstay at our climate strikes and always gets people motivated. It’s in Icelandic, but since our languages are not too far apart, you might still be able to make heads and tails of it.
Hey hey! Hó hó!
Mengunin er meira en nóg!
This can be repeated as many times as desired. It’s a good way to boost people’s spirits and get attention from tourists, some of which end up joining us in our strikes!
We hope to light a metaphorical fire under you and other Faroe Islanders reading this to go and be agents of change. Know that you always have a comrade in us and that the government’s complacency in dealing with climate issues will come to an end.