Tomorrow (Friday 15th) at 11 am in 106 towns and cities across the UK, schoolchildren, students and young people will take the day off from their work or educational establishments, to say with one voice, ‘You are stealing our future: act now on climate change’. Writer and activist Nicholas Sebley reports.
This climate justice movement started 8 months ago, when 15-year-old Greta Thunberg decided to miss school and sit outside the Swedish parliament to protest how little her government was doing to address our ecological peril. She was alone that day, but returned the following week and a friend joined her. Since then her example and message have caught alight and tomorrow will see the birth of a global movement, with strikes happening everywhere from London to New York to Rio to Sydney. Tens of thousands of children across the world are finding their voice and political agency.
I am one of the co-ordinators of the local branch of Extinction Rebellion and the University students in our group wanted Portsmouth to be part of that global movement, so they set up a Facebook event for anyone who wants to join the strike to meet in Guildhall Square at 11am.
As a somewhat jaded 40-something man, I completely support this strike: many of these young people cannot vote but, even if they could, none of our politicians are offering policies that match the urgency of the crisis we are in. Temperature records are being broken year after year, emissions have risen two years in a row and our entire political elite are ignoring the desperate recommendations of the latest IPCC report.
The way I see it, if the political system fails the young to this extent, they have the right to protest, and protest in the most effective way. Would the Portsmouth News really have dedicated its front page and two other pages to this demo, if it had been held on the weekend?
Below are some of the thoughts of the young people who will be leading and joining the protest on Friday. I hope to see you there.
‘At least someone is doing something as nothing else has happened. If I was at school I’d be striking too.’
‘The fact so many young people are taking to the streets to protest should send a stark message to our leaders that we won’t let our futures be squandered for the sake of short sighted policies and greedy profits. This is why I’m joining the Youth Strike because the window of opportunity to avert catastrophic climate change is disappearing fast so it’s time to stop debating and start acting. It’s time for leaders to put their money where their mouth is. If they don’t, we’ll only shout louder. Change is coming. Join the rebellion!’
‘We are actively protesting to show we care about our planet, because our politicians don’t. This one day off won’t negatively impact our learning, but it might start a movement so our government stops negatively impacting our planet, our home. This one day is about every day. Every day we ignore the climate crisis, we take one step closer to extinction. I’m protesting for my future, because if I don’t act now, I might not have one.’
Joyce van der Graaf, 20
‘I don’t really want to go to school breathing in pollution. We want all kids to have a life without air pollution. We want our animals to live and not drown. So we need to stop it because we’re all experiencing it. If we came together and stopped climate change it would make such a massive difference to all our lives.. A message to the PM Do you really think that we are all going to look up to you when you’re risking all our lives?’
Woody Lindo, 11
Image courtesy of Extinction Rebellion.