The Speaker
Friday, 12 April 2024 – 11:54

School climate strikes hit the UK

Pupils across the UK are set to walk out of the classroom today, in order to join the first UK wide climate school strike.

The strikes are being coined as #FridaysForFuture, gaining the name originally from Greta Thunberg- who is now on her 26th week of strikes.

Greta has shown support for the UK strikes, saying “I think it’s great that England is joining the school strike in a major way this week.”

It is anticipated that thousands of students will be taking part in the strike, at 11am. These students are from across the UK, with around 60 towns and cities having strikes set up.

The strikes are taking place to urge the government to declare a climate emergency and take more steps in order to tackle the issue. Students would also like a reform to the school curriculum, so that climate change is more of an educational priority.

The strikes have been organised by the UK Student Climate Network and the UK Youth Climate Coalition, in which they have called for British students to copy similar protests which have taken place across Europe and Australia. 

The former UN climate chief, Christiana Figueres, said “it is a sign that we are failing in our responsibility to protect them from worsening impacts of climate change” and it was “time to heed the deeply moving voice of youth”.

Reports suggest around 3,000 gathered in London, 2,000 in Oxford, 1,00 in Leeds and Exeter and 600 in Brighton. With many other young people turning out for more local scale strikes.

High turnouts at the London protest resulted in roads being closed and thus large traffic built up outside Parliament this afternoon.

These strikes will place increasing pressure on the government. Richard Baker suggests “If the government is serious about winning over the next generation of voters, then they need to heed their most pressing concerns”, but he says “more importantly they are sparking a national debate”.

Jake Woodier, from the UK Youth Climate Coalition, who helped coordinate the protest suggests the “size of the Youth Strike 4 Climate is testament to the passion and awareness among young people that we need to fight for a future that simply doesn’t exist because we’ve been betrayed by the inaction of those in positions of power.”

The former Labour leader Ed Miliband attended the protest, in London, with his son Daniel (9). Miliband said “I think it’s inspirational to see these young people today- the older generation has failed them and now needs to step up. What more important thing could there be than safeguarding the planet?”

There has been support from other politicians, including Jeremy Corbyn, Caroline Lucas and Claire Perry; among others.

However, a Downing Street spokesperson has said “Everybody wants young people to be engaged in the issues that affect them most so that we can build a brighter future for all of us. But it is important to emphasise that disruption increases teachers’ workloads and wastes lesson time that teachers have carefully prepared for.”

Thunberg has responded to this statement tweeting “That may well be the case. But then again, political leaders have wasted 30 yrs of inaction. And that is slightly worse”.

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