As grown-ups, we haven’t left much of a legacy for the next generation. But to say the young are disinterested or disengaged with politics is too much of a generalisation. Last year, 15-year-old Swede Greta Thunberg took the decision to stop attending school on Fridays. Her time, she felt, was better spent protesting outside the Swedish parliament. The students climate change strike has spread like wildlife in many parts of the world, especially in Europe.
Tens of thousands of school and university students in UK, Australia, Belgium, Germany, US, Japan and other countries have been seeing demonstrations in force. Greta has spoken at the UN Climate Conference in December last year, and she basically told off the politicians for behaving like irresponsible children. In Davos, she ticked off the wealthy elite for “priceless values they have been sacrificing to continue making unimaginable amounts of money.”
Heatwaves, forest fires, wild changes in weather patterns are not likely to offer the next generation any hope for their future, and they will end up paying the price for mistakes we make. The global movement is an inspiring example of activism for systemic change.
The UK Student Climate Network has four demands: The Government declare a climate emergency and prioritise the protection of life. National curriculum be reformed to address the ecological crisis and the goverment communicate the severity of the crisis and the need to act immediately. Finally, they want the government to recognise that views of the young be taken into account for policy making and to bring the voting age down to 16.
This is the result of the The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report released every six years about the severity of our impact on the planet. he IPCC’s latest report simply says we are not taking action fast enough. Even if we halve emissions in 12 years and reach net zero by 2040, the earth will still warm by 1.5°C. This will still expose 383 million people to water scarcity and leave coral reefs at a 76% risk of a devastating Marine Heatwave.
Anna Taylor of UK Student Climate Network said, “We’re ready to let politicians know we won’t accept anything less than a commitment to protect the planet for the good of everyone. We have a clear message for Theresa May: do not let the big polluters steal our future.”
So what is the potential impact of these protests? It puts pressure on political parties to take a stand on climate change. In the cynical political space, if there’s enough threat to losing votes, politicians will find it in their self-interest to act.
The next strike date is set for March 15. At Ecophiles, we support the inspiring stand taken by the young at Students climate change strike and hope that people can be more aware of the damage our actions are inflincting on our planet.