'I am the last generation on Earth' - Fridays For Future spokesperson in Barcelona
More than 1,500 cities around the world have already joined the youth climate emergency movement
Beginning with the activism of student Greta Thunberg last summer in Sweden, the Fridays For Future movement is encouraging students to participate in a school strike every Friday and take part in demonstrations to demand action against the climate emergency.
The cause has had such an impact that it has already reached more than 1,500 cities around the world.
Turning seventeen, Maria Serra has become the spokesperson of the movement in Barcelona, but conscientiousness is nothing new to her.
When she was only ten years old, she had already begun writing a personal blog on social issues, and by the time she was fourteen, the documentary 'Before The Flood' (2016) made her realize the importance of doing something for climate change. Now, she combines high school with Fridays For Future.
You have already been striking for seventeen Fridays in Barcelona. Would you have ever imagined this impact?
At the first demonstration, not even one hundred people showed up! But regardless, we were happy (she laughs). Actually, I didn’t expect to get as much attention as we have since then. We've managed to force more conversations on climate change in three months than in the previous thirty years.
Why do you think it is happening now?
I believe it is due to it being an emotional issue. It's not fair that people listen to us more than the experts who have been warning about climate change for decades, but at the same time, I think that we are being listened to because as young people, we are appealing more to feelings than science.
We are the young generation asking the old one: “Why didn’t you do anything?” This feeling of guilt has a huge emotional impact on people.
The Catalan Government recently declared climate emergency, like the UK, Ireland or Scotland. Have you already achieved your aim?
For us, it is only a symbolic declaration. We can’t deny it has great value, but we are very critical of it. To make a public appearance and say "we are in a climate emergency" is like announcing there's a fire without trying to put it out.
But they will take action, won’t they?
Right now, neither in Catalonia nor in Europe is any party with a green policy powerful enough to change what is still to come. It is so sad! We are angry because we are sure this was a pre-electoral promise to shut us up.
Even so, would you opt to support a particular party?
The essence of Fridays For Future is apolitical. Before the elections, almost all parties wanted to meet with us, but we rejected them. We are not here to win anyone votes, and even less so with these crappy politics.
Greta Thunberg and you are the same age. Do you see yourself reflected in her?
I think we are very different… starting with the fact that she seems very serious, and I am so extroverted! What I feel connects us most is that we are both young and women.
But there is a big difference between us: she protested on the street alone, surely without any hope that what she was doing would do the trick. But she still did it.
Wouldn’t you have done the same?
No, I would have been afraid to be treated like a crazy person. Even now they still consider it! But at least I am not the only one.
Have you been treated like that?
At first, my parents thought: "what is this mad girl doing?" Little by little, they have realized that maybe I was right (she laughs). Occasionally, they still remind me to do my homework, but they are giving me more support than in the beginning.
Are you worried about failing in studies?
It is so hard to study without knowing the future that I will live in. I have always followed my ethics and right now, although I continue studying, high school is not on my list of priorities.
What do your friends say about it?
They are worried about climate change but when Friday comes, they prefer going out instead of taking action in the demonstrations. I mean, I have different concerns from people my age but I can’t judge them for it at all.
What are your expectations on the future of the planet?
Being realistic, I think we are hopeless. Right now I don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel but I fight to see it. In 2100 all species on earth will be extinct. By that time, I will be 98 years old, which means that I am the last generation on Earth. If we do nothing to be hopeful, the rest of society will do less.
And what about your future?
I want to be an activist in this fight. Environmentalism has opened up my horizons, it includes all that I’ve ever fought for, like feminism and human rights. I will keep fighting until it isn't necessary anymore, because that will mean we have finally been saved.