Something Happened

Although it might be a common conception that young people are the future, they are often downplayed and not accepted as full participants in political debates and decision-making about the future. The contemporary climate movement of the young has been—at least to an extent—an exception. The movement has mobilised young people around the world. It has inspired and encompassed various collective ways of acting and thinking. The protests of the young have challenged the current socio-ecological state of contemporary societies, and these concerns and criticisms have been widely heard. Despite various, and perhaps inevitable, efforts to downplay the agency of the young, as when arguing that they are still too immature (e.g., Bergmann & Ossewaarde, 2020; Jacobsson, 2020), several participants in the movement have been given opportunities to address national and global leaders and influencers at political meetings.

Greta Thunberg has been a key figure in the movement. She started a school strike for climate and refused to go to school on Fridays to draw attention to the climate emergency and the lack of a means to address it. Consequently, she inspired a whole movement. She has been invited to speak to various international forums, such as Davos, in 2019, for the business elites of the world. Her message was expressed in clear terms: “We can create transformational action that will safeguard the living conditions for future generations. Or we can continue with our business as usual and fail” (Thunberg, 2019).

Greta Thunberg’s speech is an example of the messages and strategies of the climate movement of the young. It emphasised the need to take seriously the warnings of climate scientists about the urgency of the matter. She refused to be an expert with expertise only. She presented herself as a proponent of science. Most importantly, she did not demand that the young be given more environmental education, nor did she call for the transformation of institutions offered for the young. Instead, she called for political and transformative action to change the harmful practices of current societies and to take seriously the ecological crisis facing us. Besides the transformation of unjust environmental practices, she challenged a mindset that favours short-term economic benefits over long-term environmental concerns.

Greta Thunberg was 16 at the time of the Davos meeting. The fact that the young Swedish activist was given a chance to speak at the World Economic Forum highlighted that the message of the climate movement was heard by all of society, from the grassroots level to the corridors of power. Although the reactions varied—it could be argued that the message was heard only partially, as the climate policies still lag behind the goals set by the Paris agreement—at least the climate movement of the young captured the attention of the public. They voiced their views at “a historical juncture when the cultural environmental critique has merged with scientific concerns” (Szolucha, 2020, p. 93). The climate movement was able to articulate concerns shared by many adults too and managed to seize what researchers have referred to as a current “planetary moment” brought about by the rapidly rising general consciousness of environmental and climatic dangers (Millsten et al., 2020). In a way, it seemed that the young were given the role of educators of the wider society, as they formulated their sentiments and anxiety about the fate of the planet and emphasised the need to act. Moreover, the movement of the young adopted strategies and ways of relating, which prefigured what a good life would look like for them in the future.

In this article, we examine the constructive democratic practices of young climate activists and their views on how democracy should be improved. In doing this, we utilise ethnographic data and interviews collected from young climate activists in Finland during 2020. All of the quotes in this article are from our interviews. We regard the young as actors in their own right, not mere victims of the climate crisis, and we focus on their collective action. Second, we study how the young want to contribute to society, what kind of improved forms of democracy they imagine, and how they think the necessary steps towards eco-socially just societies can be created. This contributes to the fundamental question of what living well in a world worth living in might be like during the eco-crisis and ecological transformation.

New Forms of Self-expression

The climate movement of the young does not seem to accept the readily available routes to adulthood offered to them by contemporary societies as fully unproblematic. The movement adopted non-violent strategies that managed to disrupt the existing social order. One visible demonstration has been the Fridays for Future-movement, where young people have refused to attend schools on Fridays and instead demonstrated on the streets and in social media and demanded change. By doing this, the activists contradict the central generational narrative of modern societies by claiming that there are more important issues for children and the young than schooling if we want to ensure a good and just future for all. This effectively questioned the social contract, in which formal education was seen as the most useful way to secure a good future.

In Finland, a country in northern Europe with 5.5 million inhabitants that traditionally favoured formal education as an individual and societal way forward, the school strikes gathered significant momentum during the spring of 2019. They, along with other major demonstrations organised by young people, left the educational community perplexed. Finnish activism has generally been described as consensus-driven and rarely adopting strategies that radically challenge the normal state of affairs (Luhtakalllio, 2019). Compared to their European counterparts, Finnish youth have been less interested in demonstrations or other forms of what Pierre Rosanvallon (2008) has called counter-democracy (Myllyniemi & Kiilakoski, 2019).

The refusal to go to school was met with different responses. Some educators supported the demands of the young, while others adopted legalistic perspectives and suggested different forms of punishment (Kettunen, 2020). The new climate movement was seen as a surprising phenomenon by the general public. Nevertheless, it should not have come as such a surprise, since the importance of environmental issues for children was noted during the 2010s (Holmberg & Alvinius, 2020). Millennials, in general, have been described as a generation interested in politics, affected by the economic and ecological crises of our times and ready to adopt new ways to engage politically (della Porta, 2019). Ecological concerns play a strong role for the majority of the young, although not all. In Finland, a national youth barometer found that, already in 2018, climate change caused by human activity was the greatest concern or a source of uncertainty for young people aged 15–29. Those who are more concerned about the environment are also more likely to be active politically (Myllyniemi & Kiilakoski, 2019).

The novel climate movement adopted anti-hierarchical, bottom-up strategies and was successful in utilising social media and other digital platforms to achieve the political goals of the movement. What was perhaps less visible were the calls to revise our societies so that they would be based less on consumerism and economic growth and the calls to address current socio-ecological injustices. Our study is based on analysing the prefigurative and critical aspects of the climate movement, echoing the imperative which sociologist Alan Touraine described as follows: “Today we must start with the conviction that the study of social relations, conceived as primarily created by social movements, is linked with the permanent fight for freedom and against non-social explanations and legitimisations of social order” (Touraine, 1980, p. 14).

In our earlier work, we have analysed socio-ecological disappointment as a motivational basis for the new climate movement (Piispa et al., 2021), dimensions of ecological injustices argued by activists (Piispa & Kiilakoski, 2021), and calls to democratise political debate on the future (Piispa et al., 2020). The movement has created descriptions of a good future and practices for how to cooperate democratically. In our analysis, we use the concept of utopia to point out how the world worth living in is pictured.

Utopia as a Method of Imagining a World Worth Living In

According to philosopher Bloch (1986), humans tend to yearn for something better. A better shared social world can be imagined if the current reality can be seen as something that can be changed. Utopias are a way to imagine alternative social realities where present injustices can be overcome. Originally, utopia referred to an ideal place in Greek—eu topos—or to a place that does not exist—ou topos. Utopias have been thought to exist in the mind of an individual, in a mythical place or in a concrete geographical place (Portolano, 2012). They may be concrete or abstract, idealistic or realistic, short-term or far in the future. Utopia has a distinctive social function. Utopia serves as a tool for social critique and change. Utopias require social imagination and are connected to hope. For many scholars, “utopia’s importance lies in its capacity to embody hope rather than simply desire and to inspire the pursuit of a world transformed” (Levitas, 2013, p. 108). Utopia requires both a language of hope and a language of criticism.

The climate crisis is an urgent concern that affects the very basis of human societies. Levitas (2013) emphasises that the utopias of today have to be ecologically sound; they cannot be founded on societal architecture that is damaging to the climate. Bloch (1986) argued for “concrete utopias”, where a good life and a better future are outlined through the analysis of historical and social realities. Given the need to come up with rapid, far-reaching, and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC], 2018), climate change requires immediate global action. Thus, climate utopias are relatively short-term utopias. In addition, they do not have to be future-oriented: some utopias can already be here. The concept of everyday utopia emphasises that utopias exist in life as we experience it when new practices are formed. These practices challenge mainstream ideas, enable thinking about life differently, and show that new social patterns can be formed today. For instance, some (youth) cultural environments might already represent one kind of utopia (Cooper, 2014). To use a different language game, utopian ideas about the future can be brought to concrete existence today by prefigurative politics. Social movements, non-bureaucratic groups or networks create practices that try to challenge mainstream activities and create new solidarities (Yates, 2020). In our understanding, prefiguring what the world worth living in looks like is an important part of the future orientation of the climate movement. The utopias of the new climate movement are formed within the peer group that utilises digital tools and connects the global discussion to local activities (Piispa et al., 2020).

In our interpretation, ideas about a better future serve as cognitive and emotional resources that generate political activity and provide hope for the situation seen as threatening the basis of human life on this planet. But utopias do not exist only at the cultural-discursive level. They can inform new practices and practice architectures on which sustainable solutions are based.

Methods and Research Questions

The writers of this article are youth researchers. Our approach is influenced by youth studies on the participation and political activities of the young. This research field examines everyday activism and participation, concerns how young people cope in changing eco-social conditions and how they react to the changing eco-social order, and examines sites and agoras where young people do democracy. As Gharabaghi and Anderson-Nathe (2019) emphasise, when studying youth and climate, we must ask what young people themselves do in the face of climate change and what we can do here and now to listen to their voices.

In our analysis, we combine theoretical educational perspectives with empirical youth research. While there is a rich array of theoretical discussions on utopias, empirical examples of what the utopias of the young might look like are harder to find. In our article, we analyse democratic utopias and how the political agency of young climate activists points out a way for societies to get there. Our analysis is based on ethnographic data that includes 18 interviews gathered during 2020 as part of a research project called Nutopia—Youth Utopias in the Era of Climate Change. By activism, we mean collective action in the public sphere that aims to create social change and renew existing practices. Our emphasis is on the young as agents, not as recipients or objects of education.

Multi-sited ethnography was done by participating in forums where young climate activists were in action, such as demonstrations and various other kinds of events. Political activities and discussions were observed, as well as how young activists were received in debates concerning climate; in other words, what role young people have in different forums and settings pertaining to climate action. After the coronavirus pandemic hit Finland in early March 2020, the data were largely gathered using netnography (Kozinets, 2015), that is, observation of climate activism online.

The interviewees were from various cultural backgrounds. A majority were from, or lived in, the Helsinki capital area, but some interviewees also lived in other locations at the time of the interviews. Approximately two-thirds (N = 12) of the interviewees were assumed to be female based on appearances. At the time of the interviews, the average age was around 23 years. The interviews were mostly carried out via video phone calls due to the coronavirus pandemic. The interviewees were given detailed explanations of the aims, implementation, background and funding of the study to ensure informed consent (see also Piispa & Kiilakoski, 2021).

Our research questions are categorised into two groups, first one dealing with political practices of the young, and the second one on the future of democracy.

  1. 1.

    What type of practices of political and democratic participation do the young climate activists engage in? How do these practices prefigure the sustainable democratic practices of the future?

  2. 2.

    How do the young want to change their ways of participating? How do they see the future of democracy?

Acting Together

Young activists shared a fear that unless our societies manage to rectify the current practices that are causing the eco-crisis, there is a possibility that human life and social order, as we know it, is in grave danger in the foreseeable future. Different scientific reports, such as The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC, 2018) Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C, were often referred to as offering a knowledge basis for action. The report indicated the need to act rapidly, since “avoiding overshoot and reliance on future large-scale deployment of carbon dioxide removal can only be achieved if global CO2 emissions start to decline well before 2030” (IPCC, 2018, p. 18). However, despite the scientific evidence, actual political efforts to renew the practices have been insufficient and the requirements of the report have not been met. In our interpretation, the eco-social disappointment towards the inability of the older generations to act quickly enough has been one of the key motivations for the new climate movement (Piispa et al., 2021).

The public reception of the climate movement has often been concerned with environmental anxiety and other individual reactions of the young to the climate crisis. Some, although not all, of our respondents said that they felt powerless and suffered from environmental anxiety. However, the collective power of the movement itself was a remedy for individual action. Acting together was seen as a way out of negative feelings, even if some of the informants thought that we humans had destroyed the planet so much that we could not repair all the damage.

What was perhaps most meaningful to me was that I had such a huge environmental anxiety, and I got rid of it through acting. I had a lot of feedback from others that they had gotten rid of the anxiety the same way. It boiled down to this: It is not only about saving the planet—which is a rhetoric I do not prefer to use, since man cannot save the planet. [The] planet is beyond saving and we should concentrate on saving our species. It [acting] becomes the enabler or guardian of the individual’s wellbeing. Like, if you are depressed and have anxiety, don’t dwell on it, since you cannot act if you are depressed. Even the tiniest form of activity, even if it is just minimising your personal waste amount, has been an empowering factor for many.

The above quote describes the necessity of doing something at the individual and collective levels. The individual ecological burden is easier to bear when one has a feeling of doing something towards saving the human species. This feeling is echoed when significant others share the same sentiments. Social movements share engagements, familiarity, mutual feelings of ease, shared memories, and common traditions (Luhtakallio & Tavory, 2018). Previous research has noted that participating in social movements has a long-term impact on the personal and political lives of the people involved. The power of a social movement lies in the fact that social movements articulate common concerns, offer a way to do something to find a solution to these problems, and create relationships. Participation in social movements can be empowering and may change not only the lives of the young people involved but also bring about sustainable practices within the family and even grandparents (Nissen et al., 2020). In this way, young activists involved in social movements may change what is happening in the private sphere in their daily surroundings.

Everyday activism encompasses both individual and collective efforts. Youth activism can mean influencing the political sphere through different mechanisms, but it can also involve changing immediate surroundings. For the everyday activism of the young

climate-relevant routine behaviours and social practices are the direct target of change, with a perhaps less direct impact on larger-scale public policies. Moreover, youths’ everyday activism takes place within young people’s personal spheres of influence (e.g., family and peer networks), rather than in the public sphere. (Trott, 2021, p. 3)

Through transforming the practices they engage in, the young aim at creating a more just and sustainable world.

A key goal for young climate activists was to change the way society reacts to the eco-crisis change while, at the same time, to change how one engages in consumption (see also Kettunen, 2020). For many of them, finding ways to practice the virtue of moderation was important: on an individual level, this meant looking for ways to reduce waste or lowering individual carbon dioxide footprint, as when choosing a vegetarian diet. These practices are examples of everyday activism based on ideals about the future. While these practices are based on individual choices, they are debated together and are socially shared.

The emphasis on disobedience is seen as one of the features of the new climate movement, which is stronger than in earlier social movements (de Moor et al., 2020). There is an inherent countercultural element in the new climate movement. Firstly, the young question some elements of the present practices, such as materialism and extensive consumption. They are trying to find ways to create a better life for their generation and generations to come. Secondly, they actively question the dominant narratives about the role of the young in society. The young refuse to accept the role of learners and listeners and instead see themselves as agents of change (Trott, 2021). The young do not want to sign a social contract and accept the consequent place in society that is offered to them as not-yet-adults; they are instead, as active agents, trying to convince society that current practices are not sustainable and need to be reversed quickly. By creating alternative forms of democratic engagement and social interaction, the young experiment in a more socially and ecologically just future.

For many of the activists, engaging in politics was an important goal. On a personal level, many activists interviewed stated that their activist practices today are something that they want to continue. They want to engage in processes of deliberative democracy that they regard as valuable and meaningful. In other words, their political practices of today can often be interpreted as prefigurative to their visions of better democracy.

Despite the promise of the more democratic future, various interviewees reported that, at times, they experienced fatigue related to climate activism. Many expressed the hope that some decades from now, in their full adult years, they would no longer have to be climate activists. Nevertheless, they typically expressed that they would like to utilise their skills and knowledge in other fields of society. In this way, while the topics of their activities might change, they feel that activist practices themselves will be with them in the future.

Informant: I really hope that I don’t have to do this [in the future]. I don’t do this for fun but because I have to and this is needed… And I don’t have other hobbies. I can imagine other things to do too instead of using my time in this, but now it’s simply obligatory. [...]

Interviewer: What about some other political activity, like working in some organisation, can you see it as your future profession or…

Informant: Absolutely. I have ended up on this road and there is no way to get me out of it anymore.

Prefigurative politics “links the particular, local and present moment to alternative worlds and the future via imagination and practice” (Yates, 2020, p. 9). New social movements such as the climate movement of the young use innovative and often everyday forms of activism. Through experimenting and developing new social practices, these movements and people involved in them examine new political identities and concepts, new ways of interacting in a just manner and creating new socio-ecological relations (Blühdorn & Deflorian, 2021). While it would be easy to over-emphasise the critical components in the new climate movement, it is worth acknowledging that by creating new practices, the young and others are prefiguring what just society and eco-socially sustainable practices could look like. For this reason, the road they have “ended up on” has the potential to change not only individual life courses but also our shared social world.

Democratising Democracy

The political styles and ways of influencing society within the climate movement are varied. Some proponents of the movement opt for influencing the political system from within, some use social media to shed light on ecological issues and others use the tools of counter-democracy such as demonstrations or civil disobedience. What all activists share, more or less, is eco-social disappointment. This has been taken to mean that a lot of adults—such as educators, researchers, and politicians—have failed them, inside and, more importantly, outside the classroom (Trott, 2021). The young are also critical of the existing state of democracy, which emphasises electoral political participation and downplays various other forms of democratic participation. Young activists also do not see consumer democracy and individual lifestyle choices as being enough (Pickard et al., 2020). Despite their criticisms, young activists do not call for abandoning all the intellectual heritage that our societies have to offer: instead of replacing democracy with something else, they seek to improve it.

Young activists are committed to the principles of democracy although they are critical of the current state of democracy. The political system that has been destructive and has caused an eco-social disappointment, is still partly inevitable in imagining what a better world would look like in the future. Young activists value the promise of democracy. A truly democratic society is an integral element of the eco-social utopias of the young. When they are building better practices, the way forward is to democratise democracy and help citizens become more engaged in matters affecting them. However, in order for humanity to sustainably face the climate crisis, democratic principles should be preserved, cultivated, and renewed.

Despite everything I still in a way believe in democracy. It is, after all, the best we have, in light of what we know. But then again, democracy is not something designated, it can be in bad shape or good shape. At the moment it is not in very good shape, thus [I hope] it could evolve and improve.

When a better society is imagined, implicit images of the good society and views of how people are and should be are presented (Levitas, 2013). The democratic principles are shared by young activists. There are calls to make democracy more inclusive and to ensure that all voices in society can be heard. These call to create grassroots democratic practices are shared by many social movements and are often contrasted with the existing (party) political culture. The social organisation of the movement prefigures what a better society might look like. The dynamics between the way the group organises itself and the way society is thought to operate are one of the motivational bases for activities (Luhtakallio & Tavory, 2018). One of the activists we interviewed offered a vision for the future using immanent critique (i.e., the form of criticism that contrasts the promise of our political system to the realities young people are facing).

Of course I hope that [politics] would transform to more dialogical activity and that it would take into account everyone, that it would be more equal and that certain kind of toughness would disappear from it. But then I also just hope that all the young people [...] don’t give way to the old practices, but rather just bravely… I hope all the young people would renew and contest the practices and conventions that don’t serve the purpose that everyone could be well.

The old practices that prevent citizens from engaging in political activities and contribute to preserving ecologically harmful ways of life are criticised. The explicated ideas about how the new democratic practices could look like may, at first, seem rather general and devoid of concrete content. This, too, can be seen in a different light if we look at the way the practices of the young prefigure how democratic decision-making should be. They are anti-hierarchical, inclusive and react rapidly to whatever is going on. Young activists are also aware that they need to engage with the adult society. The call to listen to science is paramount for the movement, but utopias of the young are about enabling citizens to participate in the world of politics.

I think decision-makers should strongly rely on expert knowledge and bring experts in to help make the decisions and to make preparations. And then we need to offer citizens possibilities to take part in the decision-making as widely as possible, and also utilise tools of direct democracy where possible.

The democratic ethos of activists is about maximising the freedom of everyone and supporting engagement with the world, which are seen as key elements in education for democracy (Biesta, 2013). Central elements of the utopias expressed by the young are creating more spaces to debate and discuss how we could tackle the challenges facing us. Seven out of eighteen interviewees emphasised that we need more dialogue between people and different groups in our society for everyone willing to be able to express their opinions and participate in democratic processes. In other words, democracy should be more accessible, understandable, and open to all.

We really need to get people to meet in various ways and frame the issue in a way that we try to solve these problems together, and not compete with who gets to decide. [...] And we should create places for discussion, and teach people to discuss, and negotiate how to do it and how to keep it going.

On a personal level, many saw that their activist practices pertaining to the new climate movement were something that they wanted to continue. They wanted to engage in processes of deliberative democracy that they regarded as valuable and meaningful. In other words, their political practices of today can often be interpreted as prefigurative to their visions of better democracy. While they felt the need to renew ecological practices, there were calls to do so in a socially sustainable manner. These problems about a just ecological transformation cannot be solved without asking questions that are educational in the deepest sense of the word and creating sustainable—in all of its meanings—democratic practices. Also, the activism itself needs to be sustainable, and if it can currently create sustainable practices, they can also prefigure future changes.

But now, especially at the grassroots level they have taken into account this sustainable activism, regenerative culture, mental wellbeing, sharing the positions of power, decentralisation and all these elements, they are included in the activities better than before. [...] And it is also less hierarchical, more reciprocal, than what we are used to in society in general.

For the activists themselves, democratic principles, inclusion, and deliberation are important. Yet this is something that is currently not easy to realise in society. Some expressed a wish that their political agency would become better embedded and more natural in their own lives, emphasising the view that the ideal of democratic citizenship is still in the making. This might be more feasible if decision-making were more accessible to all. Currently, activism is a moral duty that is not always easy or enjoyable. Not only is climate activism often seen as a must rather than a source of enjoyment, it can, as pointed out by multiple interviewees, be time-consuming and exhausting and may result in burnout. This, intrinsically, is far from the ideal of social activism or democracy at large.

For the young activists interviewed and observed, living well is connected to a lively democratic culture. In this kind of culture, active citizens would be supported. The utopias of climate activists are about creating a participatory culture in which different people have the capacity and motivation to act. There is optimism that creating a democratic culture would encourage citizens to be active and interested. To achieve this, democracy and education should be connected.

I would start to think about our educational system from a whole new perspective. I would change it so that it would provide more broad education, and that it would encourage being active, and that people [...] would become active citizens. [...] And I believe that this process would feed on itself, and it would produce the healthy change needed within the political system. I believe that if the climate movement becomes more radical or creates a shake-up of the political system, that it is certainly fine and interesting and all, but what I’m afraid of is that it is just an eruption of a volcano. Whereas sustained and farsighted creation of a political citizen is something that feeds itself and keeps itself alive.

One thing the interviewees widely agreed upon was that democracy should form the platform to reach the climate goals. Five interviewees acknowledged that the climate crisis could, in principle, be tackled by non-democratic, inhumane means, but climate totalitarianism was rejected as a solution. Climate activists share the idea that the climate crisis should be tackled democratically. Most seem to agree that democracy requires fixing, but in principle, it is the best imaginable framework to debate the contents of and to implement a socio-ecologically just transition.


One central tenet is shared by the activists: various current practices need to change. By voicing that our societies’ current track is not sustainable, the climate movement has challenged the moral and cognitive authority of adults and instead has sought to influence society at large. In this way, the climate movement can be seen as an example of how reacting to the needs of young people may require “resetting and rearming the intergenerational contract” and acknowledging that the “approaches deriving from consumerism are completely obsolete”, to quote French philosopher Stiegler (2015, p. 207). The demands of the young include resetting current ecological and political arrangements. This requires creating sustainable practices, some of which are prefigured in the way the new climate movement operates, fostering a dialogue that takes young people seriously as societal agents and aims to create inclusive spaces for democracy.

Living well in a world worth living in for young activists is connected to being able to achieve ecological transformation. Achieving transformation, in turn, is connected to creating democratic processes where citizens can discuss and participate in matters that are important to them. Young climate activists often argue that the eco-crisis is fundamentally a crisis of democracy, as the current political system has not been able to address the situation sufficiently. Creating democratic structures requires building new platforms and supporting dialogue. Climate activism itself is participating in democratic processes in a myriad of ways, and the ideals of active citizenship and so-called sustainable activism demonstrate a way forward: towards just forms of politics and citizenship that constitute what lives worth living are about.

Furthermore, climate activists demand that political decision-making should not be tied primarily to economic interests; rather, it should serve the purpose of creating an eco-socially just society (Piispa et al., 2020). This may well require completely new frameworks for how we understand a life worth living. These requirements show the interconnectedness of the ecological and the social. By picturing both points of criticism through the lenses of the present status quo and an alternative and better state of affairs, young activists are in effect simultaneously educating themselves, through their interactions, and society at large by exploring processes of extinction, survival and human suffering and flourishing (Kemmis & Edwards-Groves, 2018). Seen in this light, the young feel that they are the ones who are in charge of educating the elderly, not the other way around. This task of educating societies and previous generations is described as follows.

When future researchers and historians look at this era, they are like ‘how can it be that there were so many adults and decision-makers around, who were so badly in the dark, and they always managed to prioritise something else, whereas these kids just pressed on and pressed on and pressed on, and passionately fought together for a better tomorrow…’ like we were not the hooligans, but we were the ones who stood for the right cause.

Young climate activists have emphasised that whatever a world worth living in might look like, it certainly is not what they see around them. They have taken agency in both criticising current practices and imagining what a better world might look like. Living well for all requires meeting these demands in a sustainable, democratic and inclusive manner. In addition, they are prefiguring what sustainable practices look like. Perhaps more than anything, the new climate movement shows how important it is to combine understanding about the eco-social condition, the values that should guide finding solutions and the need to create new practices that combine the present with ideals and hopes about the future.