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School Strike For Climate Change: ‘There Is No Plan-et B’

School Strike For Climate Change: ‘There Is No Plan-et B’

Grow Talk by Sofy Robertson

Earlier in the month, I wrote about the Irish students planning to take part in a strike against climate inaction on Friday 15th February, inspired by the actions of Greta Thunberg and students from around the world taking part in #FridaysForFuture.

At 11am today, thousands of students across the UK are preparing to join those from across the globe and walk out of their respective schools and colleges. Strikes are planned in over sixty towns and cities across the UK, from Cornwall to Ireland.

The students are demanding that the government declare a climate emergency and take action to tackle the biggest threat to our planet and its existence. Despite facing opposition from members of the public, The National Association of Head Teachers have backed the pupils who have made the decision to walk out, saying:

“When you get older pupils making an informed decision, that kind of thing needs to be applauded.

“Society makes leaps forward when people are prepared to take action.

“Schools encourage students to develop a wider understanding of the world around them, a day of activity like this could be an important and valuable life experience.” (The Telegraph)

Some have described the strike as an opportunity for children to bunk off from school and enjoy an impromptu day off. 16-year old student and youth councillor Maisie tweeted her rebuttal, saying:

“for all those complaining: the strike is called a strike and is on a school day because if we did it on a Saturday it wouldn’t get as much media attention etc. Maybe now they’ve noticed the people with the power, adults, will do something about it #schoolstrike4climate”.

The Green Party’s Caroline Lucas has shared her support for the young people taking part in the strike today, tweeting:

“Solidarity and thanks to all young people on #ClimateStrike today – you’re offering more leadership than most politicians – never doubt that you can make a difference”.

Students across Devon will be joining those across the UK to demonstrate a show of active citizenship and demonstrate that, despite not being of voting age, they deserve a say in our planet’s future.

Exeter College student Sophie Sleeman explained:

“We’re swapping the classroom for active citizenship. Without a vote for sixteen-year olds, our generation – like the Earth we are trying to protect – has been silenced. Yet we are left with the inescapable noise that is climate destruction. 

“We hope that by striking, awareness will be raised amongst those in power that the youth of today want action on climate change. We demand that the government declares a state of climate emergency and communicates the severity of the ecological crisis to the general public. Additionally, we want the curriculum reformed so that climate change becomes an educational priority.” (Exeter Daily)

The timing of the event is especially key as Devon County councillors will debate a Climate Emergency motion on 21st February. The students who are walking out across Devon’s schools today are pushing for the council to pledge that Devon will become carbon neutral by 2030.

Today’s strike is not a one-off event; Greta Thunberg has walked out of school for the past twenty-six weeks and she is not alone. The #FridaysForFuture movement is steadily growing across the world and another global strike day for students has been set for March 15th.

Natasha Pavey, a student from Exeter College, explained her reasons for taking part, saying:

“I’m joining in because I love our planet and all the beautiful species that inhabit it. I hope that this movement will begin to alert those in power and make the adults wake up and help up save our future before it is too late”. 

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn astutely summarised the feelings of the youth rising up today, tweeting:

“Climate change is the greatest threat that we all face but it is the school kids of today whose futures are most on the line. They are right to feel let down by the generation before them and it’s inspiring to see them making their voice heard today.”

Photo by Matese Fields on Unsplash

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  1. Louisa Radice

    “Should we be working with children about climate change?

    “Of all the sections of society who might make an impact on climate change, they have the least influence, the least agency, the least leverage. There is a real risk of raising levels of anxiety amongst children that will not only cause distress in the immediate term but will in the long term lead to those children turning against the environmental causes we hoped they might espouse.”

    • Sofy Robertson

      Thanks for your comment Louisa, we welcome your point of view.

      Although children arguably have the least influence, being unable to vote, they are arguably the generation that will experience the greatest impact of climate change and are therefore well within their rights to be anxious and distressed and channel this into action.

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