A firsthand view of the Climate strikes
I have attended school strikes for climate in Cardiff several times now and have felt extremely empowered by the strength and passion of the young people who organise and attend the events. Everyone chanting and holding their extremely artistic and powerfully worded banners really creates this feeling of unison and hope. No one at these strikes should feel guilty for missing a day of learning because they are all choosing to take their futures into their own hands and demanding positive change where many of our elders have failed to do so. I think that attending the school climate strikes provides extremely useful opportunities for learning for young people and of course the less aware among the older generations.
Many people think I'm sacrificing my learning, and therefore my future to attend these protests and events. But I think these strikes have been one of the most beneficial, emotionally and intellectually stimulating events I have been a part of in a while. I have met so many like-minded young people at these strikes and they have uncovered new opportunities to take climate action which have both been extremely beneficial to me.
Some background information about the movement
“I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.” - Greta Thunberg, aged 16
The school strike for climate is an international movement of students; striking from school to demand drastic climate change action from their governments. It was founded by a 16-year-old Swedish girl named Greta Thunberg who started a protest in August 2018 outside the Swedish parliament. She held a sign that read “Skolstrejk for klimatet” and refused to go back to school until the 2018 Sweden general election. She decided to strike every day until Sweden aligned their carbon emissions with the Paris Agreement. Since these first school strikes, Greta has inspired many students to strike for their futures all over the world. The School strike for climate movement is now an international movement and becomes more powerful every month. Greta and the rest of the strikers worldwide have gained a lot of media attention and Greta continues to give speeches at important climate meetings such as the UN Climate Summit. The strikes have continued to take place on Fridays with monthly protests in the UK beginning in February 2019.
This is a Climate Emergency
The science is clear. This is a Climate Emergency. On the 8th October 2018 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report on the state of climate science which stated that if the planet warmed by 1.5 degrees C there would be devastating and some irreversible consequences. These included:
The loss of most coral reefs
More extreme weather such as heatwaves, floods and tsunamis
Water pollution and global water insecurity
This is shocking seeing as though the original target for years has been to keep warming below 2 degrees C but the recent scientific climate research has proven that 2C of warming would be catastrophic. Many people still believe that we have a lot of time to tackle the issue of climate change. This is one of the planet’s biggest threats when we need to keep warming below 1.5C and the planet is currently heading for 3-4 degrees C of warming. If we are going to keep the warming below 1.5C, we must drastically change the ways in which we live, energy sources, land use, our industrial systems and other systems to tackle this global threat. But no one is acting fast enough!
What you can do
As young people we bring passion, energy and new ways of looking at the world. Use this to your advantage! Climate change is threatening YOUR FUTURE and the governments, people in power and large corporations are not doing enough to save it. Many people believe that it is enough to change your individual way of living to tackle climate change - switching to a vegan diet, not using single use plastic, reducing your fuel and energy consumption... These things are all great, but they are not enough! It is a common misconception that we are all equally responsible for Climate Change. But how can we be equally responsible when the richest 10% of the world have been found to produce half of global carbon emissions while the poorest half only contribute a mere 10%? It is these rich corporations and our governments that need pressuring to drastically reduce their carbon footprint.
This is where you can jump on board...
Attending climate strikes and protests draws attention to our voices and effectively the people in power who aren’t doing enough to tackle the climate and ecological crisis. This publicly shames and puts pressure on governments and the media to take the issue more seriously. When you have a group of school students stood outside in all weathers, refusing to revise for a future they don’t believe they will have - this is when heads begin to turn, and people start listening. Take advantage of your youthful voice! Even though you are young, you have a very powerful message to share and therefore a very important voice. This voice must not stay quiet when we are trying to tackle a global climate crisis!