Research Blog

Who kept the climate movement moving during Covid-19? A short analysis of reported protest activities between August 2018 and April 2021.

The worldwide restrictions of public life have complicated the activity of social movements during the pandemic. To find out more about how circumstances have impacted the mobilization of the climate movement and Fridays for Future in particular, I created this animated frequency plot series. The plots are based on climate activist self-reports published on the Fridays for Future webpage. The results are quite interesting. The activist’s reports suggest a general trend of decreasing protest activity during the Covid-19 pandemic. Compared to other European countries, Sweden, the U.K. and Germany have been the most resilient sites of climate movement mobilization. Sweden in particular stands out with actions reported every month since August 2018. Outside of Europe, the U.S. and India stand out for the high frequency of reported actions on the Fridays For Future movement’s website since early 2020. Turning to change over time, the plot series shows a great deal of fluctuation between activity and inactivity for most countries. However, the coordinated “Global Climate Strikes” (GCS) appear to produce periods of synchronization across countries and bursts of increased activity. Differences in the course of the pandemic and related constraints on public life likely influenced cross-national variation in mobilization. So, although local actions were clearly disrupted by pandemic conditions at various points in time, some continuity at the international level was maintained. This pattern of diffused persistence may have supported the movement’s continued attention on public and media agendas during hard times. (If you have read this, you can skip to timecode 0:26 for jumping the comment in the video.)

June 7, 2021