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Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for Future strikes brought change in one-third of Swiss citizens

Around one-third of the people of Switzerland have changed their day-to-day habits as result of climate activist Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for Future climate strikes, a study by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) has revealed.

Climate activist Greta Thunberg is carried away by police officers after she took part in a new climate action in Oljehamnen in Malmo, Sweden. (AFP)

Around 30 per cent of Switzerland’s residents, who were surveyed, said that they had brought in changes to their transportation, buying as well as recycling habits in light of the protests.

The EPFL study examined the wider impact of climate strikes on people’s environmental decisions. The study surveyed residents in October and November 2019 due to qrising climate protests.

Thunberg started her ‘school strike for climate’ in the summer of 2018, as she skipped school to demand political action on the climate crisis. Within a year, Thunberg’s protest grew into a global movement — Fridays for Future — with over 4 million students joining in from around 150 countries. Thunberg graduated this June, bringing an end to her school protests. However, her legacy continues to live on with hundereds of strikes being scheduled every Friday across the Globe.

The study surveyed around 1,200 people aged between 18 and 74 who did not take part in the strikes and questioned them about their environmental habits before and after the protests.

The study’s results, which were published this week, showed that a majority of people viewed Thunberg and Fridays for Future positively and around 30 per cent of them saw the protests reforming their choices.

Livia Fritz, a researcher and the study’s lead author, as reported by Euro News, said, “Our findings showed that people have become more aware of how their behaviour affects the environment and that significant shifts are under way at an individual level.”

As per the survey, the three areas where the respondents saw most change were — transportation, buying habits and recycling.

The transformation in transportation habits included looking for driving alternatives like walking or cycling. As well as avoiding flying by deciding to take vacations closer to their homes.

Participants said that they began seeking out local and organically produced food and several turned to vegetarian meals. They also began taking a greater effort to avoid plastic wastage following the protests.

Fritz said, “Our study found that this type of civic engagement through collective action can have a direct effect on society, confirming that such action is warranted. We also saw that changes made at the individual level can lead to broader societal change provided they’re supported by political action at the same time.”

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