By Safiya Young

Last Friday 15th February, children in over 60 UK towns and cities took to the streets to call for climate action. And this national demonstration is only a warm-up for an international protest against climate change to be held on Friday March 15th. The youth protesters urge adults and children alike to kick up a fight until something is done. Some are even striking from school to force the Government to finally take notice. They want to encourage as many people as possible to take part in March.

PICTURE: Jasper Williams Young

The initiator is a 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, Greta Thunberg, who decided to miss school on a Friday in order to stand outside the Swedish Parliament building until her government took action. Greta has gained tremendous media attention, and rightfully so, stating what we are all afraid to: “I want you to panic!”

In Hastings town centre, a crowd of teenagers, primary school pupils and adults gathered to show their support. “I’m here to stop Antarctica from melting” said Zuzu Ross, who came with her mum and brother Lenny. He wants to “save the bugs from pesticides”.  Emiko Fowler, influenced by Greta, puts all her pocket money towards saving the polar bears. They were joined by many other young people, there to emphasise the effect of global warming on their own futures.

But it should not be up to primary school children to save the planet! We need to put pressure on large scale institutions to play their part. Green Party member, Julia Hilton, reminded us that “Adults are responsible for [climate change] so it’s good young people are taking action, [especially as] we now have a deadline”.

Julia and her colleague Gabriel Carlyle also informed me of their plan “Divest East Sussex”, for which they are keen to gain attention. They want institutions such as schools and councils to pass motions calling on the East Sussex Pension Fund to stop investing their staff members’ pensions in giant oil and gas companies like Exxon and Shell. This Fund currently has £150 million of local people’s pension monies invested in these firms.

Now, more than ever, we must act. “We have 12 years to take action before the point of no return” said Lizzie Fowler, and she is backed by scientists. Humans will still be alive in 12 years, they may still be alive in 1200 years, but the world will not be a good place to live. If planet Earth increases in temperature by just six degrees, we could face global extinction. And, as Ayse Garret pointed out, “Government inaction towards climate change [is not helping]”.

The Earth provides for us, it’s time we took better care of it. “We have two homes: body and planet, but no one’s looking after the planet” said Sam Brown, a university student who also reasoned that the air we breathe isn’t fresh. Coming from London, she even noticed the difference in density between city air and the air in Hastings. 

Climate change is now very close to home, only further accentuating the necessity to take action. Raven, a secondary school student, emphasised how we must “support the fact that we need to stop climate change”. His words could not ring more true.

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