Support the young people striking for the climate

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Last August, an extraordinary Swedish schoolgirl named Greta Thunberg kicked off the worldwide Youth Strike 4 Climate movement. Often led by young women, it has now spread to countries all around the world, including the UK, mobilising tens of thousands of young people in the process.

The UK movement has four demands of the government:

  1. Declare a climate emergency

  2. Reform the curriculum to teach the ecological crisis

  3. Communicate the severity of the crisis, and need to take action now, to the public

  4. Reduce the voting age to 16

On 15th March the second UK Youth Strike 4 Climate will take place - as part of a global day of action across at least 85 countries. It’s a very exciting moment. But for this movement to win, it needs all of us to get active.

Here are three things you can do to support the upcoming youth strike:

 
 

+ Write to your local school.

Schools can decide whether to treat absences as learning outside the classroom, instead of punishing young people for standing up for their beliefs. Here’s a suggested letter you could send to your local school’s headteacher urging them to do so:

Dear [name],

As someone living near to [name of school], I’m writing to you to explain why I support the Youth Strike 4 Climate movement, and to ask you to treat any students absences associated with this Friday’s protest as learning outside the classroom.

Due to the inaction of successive world governments over the last three decades, we now face a rapidly closing window of opportunity to avoid catastrophic effects of climate change. Last autumn’s report by the world’s scientific authority on climate change, the IPCC, laid out the challenge in stark terms: a near halving of global emissions in little over a decade.

This time scale means that those in our society least responsible for, and most vulnerable to, the impacts of climate change - young people - have no choice but to act now to hold political leaders accountable. I believe they are right to demand immediate, urgent and transformational action on climate change. Anything less is giving up on their future.

I’m writing to ask you to recognise the legitimacy of the action being taken by young people, and to consider authorising requests for absences to join the protests from any of your students as an opportunity to learn outside the classroom. Surely there can be few things more important than learning how to work with others and teach our politicians a lesson in climate leadership.

Yours sincerely,

[your name]

+ Write to your local paper.

It’s important that as many people as possible know about the Youth Strike 4 Climate movement, and understand why the young people are taking action and what they are demanding. Can you write to your local paper explaining why you support the strikes (just look for their letters page in the paper or online for the address), and encouraging others to show support too? You could send them your photos of local strikes too, in case they are collecting a gallery. You can find more information about the movement, and the protests this Friday, by following the links below.

+ Step up your own action on climate change.

While this new injection of energy from young people is amazing to witness, they have been forced to take action now because nowhere near enough has been done to date to stop carbon emissions rising. If we all step up, they can go back to school. Whether it’s writing to your MP, getting active in a local group, joining national movements or taking actions in your own life and community to cut carbon - it’s time to up your game.

 
 

More information:

UK Student Climate Network - host organisation for UK youth climate strikes

FridaysForFuture - Global map of planned youth climate strikes

Search “school strikes for climate” on Facebook to find local protests planned near you.