Video: ‘We are the future’ – Striking students bring climate change campaign to streets

15 Feb 2019 @ 4.03 pm
| Environment, Politics

Young people walked out of school lessons and into the centre of York today to make their voice heard in the battle to save the world.

Youngsters gathered in St Helen’s Square as part of the national Youth Strike 4 Climate movement.

They were among thousands of UK pupils who skipped lessons to demand action to reduce the impact of climate change.

Chanting ‘No bees, no trees’ and carrying banners with slogans including ‘Raise your voice not the sea level’ and ‘Brexit is bad but this is worse’, the students marched through the centre of York.

And they said this was only the start of their protests until the politicians started to take notice – and take action.

Catastrophic collapse

Among the school strikers today were three teenagers from Archbishop Holgate’s School.

Madoc Wade, 16, told YorkMix: “The most important thing we are trying to achieve right now is some form of serious environmental legislation from the government.

“A UN study found last year that unless we cut climate emissions by 50% in the next 12 years about ten per cent of the world’s population will become climate refugees – and it will lead to a catastrophic ecosystem collapse.”

Some of the young demonstrators in St Helen’s Square, York. Photograph: YorkMix
Eliza Gladstone, 16, said it was her generation that was going to be most affected.

“That’s why it’s us that’s doing it, and out of school time as well to try and make people notice.

“Because we are the future for the world – and it’s going to be our future and our children’s future. So it’s really important that we get involved with this.”

Mixed reaction

Many of the students carried placards. Photographs: Richard McDougall
Her 15-year-old classmate Jack Lewis, 15, said they had received a mixed reaction for the protest:

  • We’ve had quite a bit of backlash from some teachers at school. But a lot of the people I’ve spoken to have been quite up for it.

    If you have a problem with what we’re doing here, it’s quite negative for you as well as us.

    What we’re trying to do is make our voice heard as the future politicians and future environmentalists of this nation.

Theresa May criticised the campaign. A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “Everybody wants young people to be engaged in the issues that affect them most so that we can build a brighter future for all of us,” a No 10 spokeswoman said.

“But it is important to emphasise that disruption increases teachers’ workloads and wastes lesson time that teachers have carefully prepared for.

“That time is crucial for young people, precisely so that they can develop into the top scientists, engineers and advocates we need to help tackle this problem.”

Climate protest: gallery

Photograph: Beth Vincent