Young people skipped school to join the protest against climate change
Over 200 protestors gathered in Parliament Square in London on Friday demanding government action over the climate crisis.
The demonstrators, mostly young people skipping school as part of the global ‘climate strike’, marched through Westminster calling for the abandonment of fossil fuels and swifter response to the global emergency.
Members of Greta Thunberg’s youth-led Fridays for Future movement led the protest, which included speeches from Labour MP Nadia Whittome MP, former Green Party leader Natalie Bennett and ex-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
‘No more greenwashing’
Addressing the crowd of young protesters, Mr Corbyn said the Cop26 summit in Glasgow in November “will be a week-long festival of greenwash” if voices are not raisedover climate change.
“The crisis over gas at the present time is a crisis of the stupidity of a market, of the stupidity of privatisation and the stupidity of saying there’s no alternative but the system we have right now,” Mr Corbyn added.
He was met with cheers from the crowd as he insisted that environmental politics is not separate from the rest of society and that the poorest in the world and in society are hardest-hit by the implications of climate change.
Ms Whittome told protesters that “individual action” will not solve the climate crisis.
“No more greenwashing, fossil fuels must stay in the ground, our energy must be 100 per cent renewable and the destruction of our forests must end…We literally cannot continue to live on a planet in a society that puts profits before planets and people,” she said.
After speeches in Parliament Square, protesters marched through Westminster chanting “Whose streets? Our streets” and stopping traffic along their route, which was heavily-policed throughout the day.
‘The government is not listening’
Becky Truscott, who had joined the protest with her two children – one of whom was skipping school – said the government must be held to account over climate action.
“Boris Johnson made a very nice speech yesterday in America, it totally contravened what he’s been saying in his articles as a journalist,” Ms Truscott said.
She added: “But knowing what’s going on behind the scenes, I question how much conviction is behind that?
“You’re calling on developing worlds to divest from fossil fuels but you’re not cleaning up your act in your own country?”
On leaving school to be at the protest, Ms Truscott’s 12-year-old daughter, May, said: “What’s more important, one day of school or trying to convince our government that we need to keep our planet healthy and need it to survive?”
Ms Truscott, who has four children, said her 12-year-old daughter is a “diligent student” who will catch up with school work, but saw it important to be in the ranks of protesters demanding a better future.
“I think we need more representation here, the government is not really listening to what we need to do, I don’t think there are enough people here sticking up for themselves and getting their voices in,” May added.
Cop26 will see leaders from nations worldwide discuss and tackle major climate issues.
The demonstration was also attended by older protesters calling the government to action over climate change.
Members of Extinction Rebellion Grandparents and Elders said they were standing in “solidarity” with young people.
“We want to show we care about young people’s futures because the government just isn’t acting quickly enough. We’re here as a presence to say not enough is being done,” grandparent Mary-Anne told The Independent.
Elijah McKenzie-Jackson, 17, one of the organisers mobilising the school strikes, toldThe Independent that the Fridays for Future movement is a “lifeline for the planet.”
After becoming depressed about the climate crisis, the teenager said he directed his efforts into finding solutions to environmental issues.
“For young people, it came down to realising politicians aren’t listening, they’re not listening to the science,” Mr McKenzie said.
The climate school strikes movement was powerfully started by Thunberg, who protested outside the Swedish parliament. The movement has now spread worldwide prompting young people across the globe to demand government action over climate change.