A Youth Uprising – Marching Against Climate Change
Last Friday, cities in the UK were greeted with protests from young students. Reports suggest that 15,000 students around the UK participated in marches across over 60 towns and citiesto address the worsening problem of climate change. These marches are part of a series of protests around the world, started by 15-year-old Swede Greta Thunbergwhen she decided to stop attending school on Fridays in September and start protesting outside the Swedish parliament. Since then, marches have spread to countries such as Germany and now the UK, putting pressure on governments to take the problem more seriously before the damage is irreparable.
Protests in the UK were coordinated by the UK Student Climate Network, an organisation that seeks to pressure the government to declare a “climate emergency”, reform the education system to include the “ecological crisis”, improve public education on the seriousness of climate change as an issue, and listen to younger people more when creating policies, including the prospect of lowering the voting age to 16.
Of course, the reception has not been entirely positive. There have been criticisms over children protesting instead of going to school. The National Association of Head Teachers stated that pupils should stay in school. Former director of the New Schools Network Toby Young described it as “truanting”. Downing Street also released a statementcondemning the march because of the impact it would have on teachers and planning.
The criticisms against the protests seem rather ludicrous. Whilst it is understandable to be concerned about the welfare of those taking part, ultimately the welfare of the entire world and its inhabitants is at stake. A march might seem ineffective or symbolic, but it provides pressure on those who represent us as constituents and members of society, and the generations of today and tomorrow must be heard. It is the children of today and tomorrow that will have to deal with the impact of rising temperatures and sea levels, shrinking ice sheets and glaciers, and devastating changes in biodiversity and the environment at large. The 5 warmest years on record have taken place since 2010, and they will continue to break records so long as change is absent in government policy. Awareness is a powerful driver of change, and when the generations of today and tomorrow are rising up to make their voices clear, governments will have to listen.
Ultimately, the strikes are necessary, and uproar is needed because governments are clearly not taking the matter seriously. Fracking is still permitted by the UK government, as shown by its popularity amongst its industrial leaders, while North Sea oil is still being pumped out and yet renewable energy funding is being cut, as shown in 2017 when investment in green energy decreased by 56% nationally. There needs to be more strikes like this in future if the government is to be pressured into introducing legitimate changes to save the planet. As for the world at large, the same applies. An environmental revolution is needed to stop this world from becoming inhabitable.