“You don’t have to school strike, it’s your own choice. But why should we be studying for a future that soon may be no more? This is more important than school, I think.” – Greta Thunberg, climate change activist
On Friday 15 February, the UK’s youth went took the streets in a move to fight for climate justice.
The demonstration followed a series of school strikes that took place around the world, lead by the Greta Thunberg-inspired collective UK Student Climate Network (UKSCN), who are well decided to implement juvenile unrest in the UK.
Founded by two mums that were frustrated by the lack of empowerment of their children on climate reform, UKSCN is clear on its motives. They are “choosing to rise up and take direct action where older generations have failed.”
Students and the youth in general are called on for a ‘final chance to fight for our futures’, a nation-wide strike to protest the lack of government action to combat the climate crisis.
This tribune for the Youth Strike for Climate intends to convince university students to accompany them and show their discontent – striking at least one Friday to symbolically illustrate school’s futility in face of a dying planet.
Why should we strike? https://ukscn.org/ys4c-why/
The original movement started in Sweden with 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg, an increasingly famous and iconic figure since her speech at the COP24 in Katowice and at the Davos conference in late January.
Since August, she has also continually skipped school every Friday to strike in front of the Swedish parliament. She is now followed by up to 70,000 schoolchildren each week, which are taking part in her civil disobedience in 270 towns and cities internationally.
In her view: “We need to hold the older generations accountable for the mess they have created, and expect us to live with. It is not fair that we have to pay for what they have caused.”
So far, students in Belgium Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Australia and Canada have come forward to demand political action. By skipping school, the young protesters hope to communicate the generation’s deep desire for political change in face of the growing climatic threat.
What are our demands? https://ukscn.org/demands
Dr. George Adamson, a lecturer in Human Geography at King’s College London specialising in the cultural dimension of Climate Change, is in strong favor of the movement. He appreciates that the UK’s youth decides to manifest itself on the issue.
“It is always nice to have young people on the streets,” he said. “Aults may decry them as naïve, but ultimately, they are the future.
He believes the protests are bringing back a “much-needed debate about the very notion of a common future,” and such efforts should not be discarded or underestimated simply because they are coming from children.
Greta Thunberg in Katowice (Photo by Roger Turesson)
The symbolic power of the youth in face of this issue is tremendous and can potentially make a significant political earthquake. Going to climate walks is a noble civic action, but voluntarily skipping school – a fundamental institution of the state and to which the future economy is dependent – has a poignant symbolic charm; and is a warning of potential systematic chaos.
In this type of crisis, the best remedy is naturally a more disruptive one. In Thunberg’s own words, expressed in front of adult leaders in Davos: “I want you to panic… and then I want you to act”.