Students walked out of schools on Friday as part of a global campaign calling for government action over the climate crisis. The protests come after a landmark report by the UN in October warned of catastrophic effects as global temperatures continue to rise.
Organisers Youth Strike 4 Climate estimated 15,000 took part in the protests nationwide, with demonstrations occurring in more than 60 towns and cities in the UK. The action comes as part of a wider global movement, known as Schools 4 Climate Action.
Inspired by 15-year-old Greta Thunberg from Sweden – who ditched classes in September to protest outside government buildings, accusing her country of failing to honour the Paris Climate Agreement – young activists marched on Westminster’s Parliament Square, London.
“It’s been really amazing seeing everyone out here,” says student protester Emilia (pictured, right), who skipped school for the London march. “I’m hoping the government recognises that it’s our future and that we need change.”
The group, which helped coordinate the protests, has four key demands:
- A "climate emergency" should be declared by the government
- It should inform the public about the seriousness of the situation
- The national curriculum should be reformed to include "the ecological crisis"
- The age of voting should be lowered to 16 so younger people can have a say on environmental issues.
Students holding home-made placards reading “There is no Planet B” and “The climate is changing so why aren’t we?” joined in support of the movement, with protests halting traffic in Westminster. But it’s the “disruption” to schools Theresa May has criticised instead.
“Disruption increases teachers’ workloads and wastes lesson time that teachers have carefully prepared for,” said the prime minister’s official spokesperson. “That time is crucial for young people precisely so that they can develop into the top scientists, engineers and advocates that we need to help tackle this problem."
For young activist Cieran Davison (pictured, left), the time to act is now – and he worries that protests are falling on deaf ears. “Politicians don’t understand how important and fragile the environment is. We should do more about it and we’re not doing enough to mitigate climate change. Me being here will hopefully encourage [that].”
Check out our photo gallery of the Student Climate Strike
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