December 10, 2019

Hundreds of thousands of students join global climate strikes | Environment


Hundreds of thousands of young people have taken to the streets from Manila to Copenhagen as part of the latest student climate strikes to demand radical action on the unfolding ecological emergency.

School and university students around the world walked out of lessons on Friday with large turnouts in Madrid, where world leaders will gather on Monday for the latest UN climate summit, and Sydney, where protesters demanded action after devastating wildfires.

In London, crowds called for the climate crisis to take centre stage in next month’s election and condemned Boris Johnson for not taking part in Thursday night’s televised climate debate.

Millie Hedley, 17, from Watford, said: “I can’t vote, which is very annoying, but I try to do as much as I can to let the government know that all these students here, we want our voices heard.”

Frida Roper, 17, said she was suffering from severe “eco-anxiety” as evidence mounted of the scale of the climate breakdown.

“I watched the climate debate last night and two of the party leaders didn’t even bother to show up [Tory party leader, Johnson, and Brexit party leader, Nigel Farage]. It’s one of the most important topics regarding everyone’s future, more important than Brexit … if this doesn’t happen, I won’t have a future.”

Student activists wear gas masks during the strike in Sydney.



Student activists wear gas masks during the strike in Sydney. Photograph: Steven Saphore/AAP

Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenager who inspired the movement when she staged a solo protest outside the Swedish parliament last year, said despite millions taking to the streets those in power had taken no meaningful action.

World leaders say they hear us and that they understand the urgency. But in one year of climate strikes, nothing has changed, nothing,” she said.

“For every step made forward, we went five steps back. The scientists say we have never been less likely to stay below 1.5C [above pre-industrial levels].”

In Manchester several hundred young people gathered outside the Central Library at St Peter’s Square, accompanied by lecturers on strike from Manchester University.

Holding a placard saying “I’m the only one allowed to fuck up my future”, Keyleigh Waterhouse, 18, said she was striking because politicians were not taking the climate emergency seriously enough.

“Boris Johnson not showing up to the Channel 4 debate on the climate showed he doesn’t care. He’s not understood and he’s not bothered.”

Eight-year-old Juno Thomas had made a poster saying “Team Greta”. Along with her friend Iris Fenemore, also eight, the girls had walked out of their primary school in Whalley Range, south Manchester, accompanied by Iris’s mother.

“If we don’t stop destroying the planet then loads of people and animals will die,” said Juno.

Public concern over the climate is now at its highest recorded level, while a majority of people say climate will influence how they vote in the election next month. In September, 300,000 people in the UK joined the last global climate strike, which coincided with the UN climate summit.

Friday’s action comes after more alarming news on the scale and scope of the climate crisis. This week scientists warned the world may already have crossed a series of climate tipping points posing an “existential threat to civilisation”.

Two days earlier a separate study from the UN’s World Meteorological Organization revealed that the concentration of climate-heating greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere had hit a record high.





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