Youth-led climate protests sweep across Europe
Thousands of young people in the U.K. are up in arms — not about Brexit, or the latest royal family gossip, but about climate change.
Students walked out of schools today in cities across the U.K., and other parts of Europe — the latest demonstration in what has become a global youth climate strike. This movement started six months ago when Swedish teen Greta Thunberg began leaving school every Friday to protest on the steps of her country’s parliament. Thunberg’s environmental activism is still going strong, and she has delivered powerful speeches to both the U.N. and the World Economic Forum on the urgency of climate change.
This is week 26 of her climate strike. But she’s no longer in it alone.
These kids aren’t just hooting and hollering, either. The U.K. Student Climate Network, a group that helped coordinate some of the biggest protests in London, Brighton, Oxford, and Exeter, has four very specific demands.
They want leaders in government to:
- Declare a climate emergency and take “active steps to achieve climate justice”
- Adjust curriculum to make the ecological crisis a priority in public education
- Do more to communicate the severity of the problem to the general public
- Lower the voting age to 16, so that young people can have a voice in determining their future
The young protestors were keen to apply their Gen Z wit to the climate cause, with slogans like: “I’ve seen smarter cabinets at Ikea,” “Make Earth cool again,” “Like the oceans we rise,” “Nobody minds if you miss school on a dead planet,” and the straightforward “Don’t f*ck us over.” Sometimes simplicity wins.
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Don’t worry if you’re feeling left out in the U.S. The climate strike is spreading stateside as well, with a major national action planned for Friday, March 15. And some young American activists, like Alexandria Villasenor, have already been at it for weeks.
Next month’s climate march is expected to galvanize not only students from around the globe, but also major environmental groups like 350.org, Extinction Rebellion, and the Sunrise Movement.
If one teen can spark a movement this size, we’d better be keeping an eye on all these youngsters. Who’s telling what they might do next — save the world, maybe?