“This story was initially published as part of the The International People’s Platform for Climate Justice project”

It was just on the verge of the coronavirus becoming a global pandemic that activist Renata Padilha started protesting every Friday on the main square of the city of Pelotas (Brazil). One could have thought that a one-person protest, only weeks away from the worldwide lockdown that was about to happen, would be short-lived. But nothing was further from what actually happened.
Today, Eco Pelo Clima is a hub of the Fridays For Future Brasil movement, based in Rio Grande do Sul, in the country’s south. Born from Padilha’s lone protests, it already has 30 organized young people from several cities in the state.

Third week of climate strike at Praça Coronel Pedro Osório, in Pelotas

“We started our activities in February 2020, a few weeks before the pandemic that would change the way we live, but even then, we didn’t stop building our movement and strengthening the environmental fight,” said Padilha. Once the virus upended access to public spaces, the still tiny group started to protest online through social media, publishing weekly agendas, promoting dialogue and bringing information to their audience, as well as seeking to reach more people to fight with us and support our work.

Protest against the Guaíba Mine, which would be the largest open pit coal mine in Latin America

As time passed and the pandemic started to get under control, the group deemed it safe to return to the streets. In September 2020, they returned to the streets with a bang: the group carried out their first Global Strike in the city of Pelotas.

Global Climate Strike in Pelotas, in 2020

This was a momentous event. After the Strike, Eco Pelo Clima grew more and more. Young people from other cities started to organize themselves within the hub, and they received invitations to participate in important events. “We participated in public hearings, we continued with our protests against the Guaíba Mine in our state, we held dialogues with other organizations, we approached politicians from our cities to be heard, we carried out a campaign to be accepted for a meeting with the State Governor, Eduardo Leite”, says the group’s founder, who confirmed that the meeting “was denied” and that they haven’t been able to meet Leite yet.
In June 2021, the city of São Sepé declared a climate emergency, being the second city in Brazil to have done so and the first in the southern region of Rio Grande do Sul. To bring visibility to what was done in the city and show the power of the people, Eco Pelo Clima held its last global strike with people who came from different cities in the state.
It was the largest strike in Brazil, with 500 people marching for climate action.

The movement continues to grow. “We had a massive win at the beginning of 2022 when the Federal Justice of Rio Grande do Sul took down the Mina Guaiba mine coal license. Our next step is to bring climate education to young people from the periphery with dynamics that encompass the creation of public policies and environmental agendas like the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN”, says Padilha. In addition, the group is developing an environmental booklet with deputies and state legislators and seeking to make Eco Pelo Clima more diverse with a lot of representation and speech space.
For a fossil-free Latin America!
Find Eco Pelo Clima on Instagram