A new generation is rising up to save the planet – and all our futures. Many will be mobilising on Friday for the Global Climate Strike and CND will be alongside them. CND Campaigns Officer Sara Medi Jones interviews some of the school strikers.
We wholeheartedly support the movement that is demanding action on climate change, including protesters from Extinction Rebellion and the school strikers such as Swedish student and activist Greta Thunberg. Students across the UK have joined in these actions over the past few months, and now the school strikers have asked for solidarity and called for a Global Climate Strike ahead of an important United Nations climate summit.
World leaders will gather in New York next Monday, on September 23rd, to discuss the Paris agreement. This is the landmark 2015 climate change treaty signed by virtually every country in the world, even if President Trump has subsequently announced the US will be withdrawing. The UN secretary general António Guterres does not believe that governments are doing enough to honour their commitments and so has called this important meeting.
Recognising the urgency of the issue, CND is participating in the global strike as a Climate not Trident day of action. Events are happening across the country on September 20th, including a national demonstration in London. CND spoke to one group about why they are involved.
Evie, Clio and Betty (all age 10), from Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire, are striking because they ‘wanted to be part of something run by children that could save our planet. We wanted to make the government more aware of this problem and make them change their ways.’ They are convinced of the need to protest, having ‘learned from personal experiences that if you keep protesting, people will start to be aware and will try to change. Protesting prompts action.’
Leela Guha is 13 and got involved after reading about the school strikes in a newspaper. She said: ‘The idea of striking really inspired me. Climate change had always been an issue on my mind, but I hadn’t known what I could do about it.
‘The ultimate goal for all strikes, of course, is for the government to shake off their complacency and treat global warming as the crisis it is. On a local level, we’re trying to raise awareness about lifestyle changes you can make. Also, continuing to strike will ensure the council treat it as a prevalent issue and stick to their emissions reduction target.’
Leela believes that ‘too often, the public are made to feel powerless’ and so protesting has an important role in giving power back to the people. ‘If enough people get involved in a movement it can achieve anything. One pebble starts an avalanche!’
Student Olly Reynolds, 14 from Kendal in Cumbria, said what motivated him ‘was that it was mine and the people of my generation that will truly experience and witness the devastating effects of climate change.’ He says, ‘My ultimate goal is to spread awareness to people all across the globe and show people what we will really experience in the not so distant future and what future generations will have to deal with on a unprecedented scale.’
The experience of protesting has been rewarding for Olly. ‘I have learnt many things, the most significant thing is that people will hear what you are doing and they want to the same thing as you, so it gets more people involved, which grows the movement. Protests shows world governments what their people want.’
Mark Topping is striking in solidarity with the students. He lives near Lydney in the Forest of Dean. He said various things got him involved, including reading Greta Thunberg’s words online, particularly her calling on people to act as if our house is on fire. He then made a connection with campaign group Fridays For Future and arranged a local event on the day of the strike, to save people having to travel to join one.
Mark hopes that ‘world leaders are forced into taking radical action to reduce global CO2 emissions’ and believes protesting is important. He says, ‘A lot of people out there feel the same way. It can make a difference. Protest is a way of making your voice heard.’
CND will certainly be standing up for people power – and the future of our planet – on September 20th. Stand with us.