Glasgow youth demand action on climate change

15 March 2019

Video: Jennifer Jones

School pupils from across the city marched to George Square as part of a global protest

Hundreds of Glasgow school pupils took to the streets earlier today to protest against climate change.

Youngsters from across the city walked out of school and marched to George Square to demand more action from governments in order to protect the environment.

Glasgow City Council was one of a number of local authorities which allowed pupils to attend, provided they had been granted parental permission.

Today’s school walkouts took place across Scotland and the rest of the world, and marked the second global protest against climate change by youngsters following last month’s demonstrations on 15 February.

Pupils call for action on climate change. Photograph: Jennifer Jones

Scottish Greens leader Patrick Harvie, who attended the George Square rally, said: “There’s been an incredible wave of energy and creativity at a time when hope and optimism are really hard to come by. If this is the energy we’re seeing from the next generation, then we still have a chance to fight climate change.

“Scotland has done alright – but we need to stop patting ourselves on the back and do more. We’re still subsiding the fossil fuel industry. We’re still operating in an economy where we think we can just grow endlessly – we need to accept there are limits.”

He added: “Similarly, the UK government has set plenty of targets to address climate change, but again they’re still investing in fossil fuels and approving fracking.”

The schoolchildren attending received support from various other organisations and groups, such as students from Glasgow Art School who joined the demonstration.

Art school students get ready to march. Photograph: Justin Bowie

Ruby Hirsch, a sculpture and environmental art student, said: “It’s great that school students have taken to the streets to demand radical and decisive action now.  It’s going to take masses of people out on the streets to create the kind of movement that can solve the climate crisis and build an alternative to the system that creates it.”

She added: “It is impossible for us to stop climate change by recycling our coffee cups or turning off the heating,  while 100 companies who release 70% of the world’s emissions continue to pollute the planet.

Gabby Morris, a product design student, said: “I think it’s really important for the planet and our futures that we attend today, and show that as a collective we can make change. Hopefully it will make Parliament take their heads out of Brexit and actually do something about climate change.”

“I think it’s actually a shame and a bit of an outcry that adults aren’t standing up and doing something, and that they’re being shown up by seven-year-olds and 10-year-olds across the globe.

“If you want kids to respect you, then you need to do something to make them respect you.”

The school strikes against climate change were inspired by young Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who gained worldwide attention after protesting alone outside the Swedish Parliament last year.

Since then, the movement has gained traction across the globe, with Thunberg now nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

224 academics from across the UK signed an open letter to The Guardian before February’s first wave of protests, offering their support to youngsters participating in walkouts.

Eva Schonveld from environmental group Extinction Rebellion Scotland said: “The speed with which the school strikes have built energy and enthusiasm is a testament to our amazing young people.

“Adding their voices to myriad other movements that are calling time on climate change, the strikes are yet more evidence that people are no longer willing to stand silently by, watching the suicidal trajectory our governments have been following for years.

“The time to build a new way of doing things, which takes into account the needs of people, the planet and all life is now.

“These amazing events are organised by the kids themselves and although our aims are very similar, Extinction Rebellion has had nothing to do with making this happen.”

She added: “The fact that two such vibrant movements have emerged and grown so quickly at almost the same time, calling for radical action on the same issue, shows how vital it is that we get radical change and how determined people are to achieve it.”

The movement has gone from strength to strength since starting. Photograph: Justin Bowie

The movement has received a mixed domestic reaction from senior UK politicians. While Prime Minister Theresa May was critical of children walking out of school during class, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn expressed his support.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also offered her support for those striking today.

She said: “I send my best wishes to #youthstrike4climate – Scotland is leading the world in tackling climate change and we must harness the energy of our young people to challenge ourselves, and others, to go further.”

A UN report by the IPCC in October 2018 warned that there are 12 years remaining to ensure global temperature increases do not rise above 1.5°C.

The report stated: “The challenges from delayed actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions include the risk of cost escalation, lock-in in carbon-emitting infrastructure, stranded assets, and reduced flexibility in future response options in the medium to long term.

“The avoided climate change impacts on sustainable development, eradication of poverty and reducing inequalities would be greater if global warming were limited to 1.5°C rather than 2°C.”

For more, see further coverage of the event on Facebook or Twitter.

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