Climate Change Protests by Youth in Britain
On Friday, tens of thousands of students across the United Kingdom gathered to protest for climate action, protesting in London, Birmingham, Newcastle and countless other cities. The UK demonstrations were far from unique; over 30 countries also held climate action events on Friday, including activity in major cities such as Istanbul, New Delhi, and Helsinki, the capital city of Finland.
In total, the UK saw over 60 demonstrations, the largest in London and others across the country, including in Leeds, Manchester and Brighton. The students protesting in London marched to Trafalgar Square and staged a sit-in on Oxford Street, bringing traffic to a standstill. Cyrus Jarvis, an organizer of the event and 16-year-old student at the London Academy school, apologized for the inconvenience the protests caused but stood by their necessity: “we are really sorry for anyone who did have issues because of us, but unfortunately this is what we have to do to get our point across to the government.”
Youth strikers across the world have garnered the support of numerous scientists and scholars. In a letter published on Thursday in the journal Science, leading climate researchers wrote “we call for our colleagues across all disciplines and from the entire world to support these young climate protesters. We declare: Their concerns are justified and supported by the best available science. The current measures for protecting the climate and biosphere are deeply inadequate.”
In the UK, the Labour Party’s Norwich South MP Clive Lewis expressed his support for the young people demonstrating, writing in The Guardian that “the time for incrementalism has passed. The young people striking today recognise this. They know that their only hope of a decent future is if government works with the people to throw everything we have got at this problem before it’s too late.”
Friday’s protests come following student strike action in February and March, a phenomenon inspired by Swedish student Greta Thunberg, who has been skipping school every Friday since August of 2018 to lobby the Swedish government for action on global warming. Thunberg has become a well known climate activist and spoke at the COP24 United Nations Climate Change Conference, stating “You say nothing in life is black or white. But that is a lie. A very dangerous lie. Either we prevent 1.5C of warming or we don’t… We still have everything in our own hands. But unless we recognise the overall failures of our current systems, we most probably don’t stand a chance.”