Schoolchildren across the UK have made signs and joined protests to demand action on climate changeBen Stansall/AFP/Getty Images By Graham LawtonThousands of children across the UK have gone on strike from school today as part of global protests over climate change. The organisers, Youth Strike 4 Climate, say strikes are taking place in 60 towns and cities across the country,…
Thousands of children across the UK have gone on strike from school today as part of global protests over climate change.
The organisers, Youth Strike 4 Climate, say strikes are taking place in 60 towns and cities across the country, from Cornwall to the Scottish Highlands, in the face of “an alarming lack of government leadership” on climate change.
At the London arm of the protest in Parliament Square this morning, several thousand children and young adults vented their frustration about the lack of climate action and voiced their fears for the future.
Raffi Gannon, 16, from Mill Hill School, said: “The politicians are not doing nearly enough, just token gestures. The ice caps are going to a huge disaster. It’s my future, I feel like I should be protesting for it.”
Prime minister Theresa May has released a statement criticising the protests saying, “Disruption increases teachers’ workloads and wastes lesson time that teachers have carefully prepared for.”
The prime minister might also have disagreed with one of the protest signs featuring a grotesque caricature of her face with the slogan, “Soon there won’t BE a field to run through” – a reference to her answer to an interview question during the 2017 general election.
School leaders and UK Education Secretary Damian Hinds have also warned students they shouldn’t miss lessons to take part in the strikes.
One child’s banner directly addressed this advice: “I’ll get back to class when you get your head out of your arse.”
Other signs suggested that their peers and parents should, “Raise your voice, not the sea level.”
Alice Stratt, 10, of St Mary’s Church of England school in Walthamstow, told us: “I’m here because global warming is ruining our planet and us kids aren’t going to have a very good future.”
Eddy Barrow, 15, of Elm Green School in Streatham said the media had to share some of the blame for the situation. “Climate change is a big problem that is being ignored by mainstream media,” he said. “The MPs in parliament are not doing much. There will be rising sea levels, no more Antarctica, the climate will be destroyed. Loads of terrible things.”
The movement has already seen school strikes in Australia and European countries including Belgium. It was inspired by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old girl who protests every Friday outside Sweden’s parliament to urge leaders to tackle climate change.
Students in the UK are demanding the government declares a climate emergency and takes active steps to tackle the problem, communicates the severity of the ecological crisis to the public and reforms the curriculum to make it an educational priority.
That feeling was echoed by A-level student Poppy Flack, 17, carrying a placard saying: “Science not Silence.” “We’re here because we don’t think enough is being done to prevent climate change,” she said. “I’m afraid for my future. It is not sustainable to keep on living the way we are. We’re not going to have anywhere to live.”
Anatoli Kamani, 14, from Latymer School in Hammersmith, who was wearing his uniform and carrying a banner simply saying “STOP IT”, said, “I’m here to protest government inaction on climate change. We’ve got about 12 years before the Earth becomes a mess and I think the government isn’t doing enough.”
The strikes come in the wake of the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which warned that the impacts of climate change could become increasingly severe unless global temperature rises were limited to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. The report called for cutting global carbon dioxide emissions by almost half within 12 years.
The youngest protestor we spoke to in London was an 8-year-old boy with his mother. He carried a banner saying: “Be cool, be green, not a dinosaur.” We asked him what the thought the world would be like when he was older. “Burning,” he said.
<section class="article-topics"><p>More on these topics:</p><ul><li> environment </li><li> climate change </li><li> climate </li><li> edu </li></ul></section>