Thousands of school pupils’ Friday strike on climate change

Published by Dylan Rana on

Thousands of schoolchildren and college students are expected to strike this Friday to protest at the lack of progress on tackling climate change. 

The action, called by the international organisation Campaign for Climate Change was inspired by schoolgirl Greta Thunberg who began a solo climate protest by striking from school in Sweden in August 2018.

YouthStrike4Climate, describing themselves as a ‘Environmental Conservation Organization’, have organised over fifteen demonstration outside council buildings and in public squares. These include demonstration in London, Manchester and Edinburgh. The movement – which garnered support from adult groups including conservation activists Extinction Rebellion, whom tweeted support – was initially supported by the National Association of Head Teachers, but the union has since retracted that view urging students to instead attend school.

The campaign group aimed to circulate letter templates set for parents to send to school headteachers informing of their child’s action in the strike.

UK law currently permits parents to only give permission for their child to miss school on medical grounds, or in “exceptional circumstances”. Parents could, if they violate this, be issued with a fine. The group’s letter argues that: ” only 12 years left to cut CO2 emissions by 50% is pretty dire and exceptional circumstances to find ourselves in.” This, however, will not qualify as “exceptional circumstances” to local councils.

The group’s letter also provides a list of the reasons for the strike:

  • 200 species go extinct per day
  • a football pitch size of rainforest was destroyed each second in 2017 and is expected to accelerate under Bolsanaro.
  • a rubbish truck load of plastic is dumped in the ocean every minute;
  • since the first UN summit on climate in 1995 the global emissions have risen by 60% and continue to rise
  • a rubbish truck load of plastic is dumped in the ocean every minute;
  • devastating impacts of extreme weather are in the news on a daily basis

The group hopes “attending this demonstration will help children to feel empowered and able to stand up for what is right, and for a better future for themselves.”

A Department for Education spokeswoman said the decision to let students strike or not was a matter for individual schools.

Schoolgirl Greta Thunberg outside Swedish Parliament. Sign: “school strike for climate”

Not the first, not the last

This latest strike follows a list of similar walkouts around the globe in the past few months. Triggered by Greta Thunberg’s initial solo-protest, strikes popped up in “at least 270 towns and cities in countries across the world, including Australia, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, the US, Canada and Japan”

In November 2018, thousands of Australian children struck school to protest for greater action on climate change. An estimated15,000 left their classrooms in 30 locations across the country, including Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, carrying signs reading “procrastinating is our job not yours” and “I’ve seen smarter Cabinets at Ikea”.

The group also have a global youth strike planned for Friday 15th March and a general, all-ages strike on 27th September.

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