Children and young people just staged the world’s largest strike to save our future

School climate strike, children with banners
Fréa Lockley

On 24 May, over a million children around the world marched out of school to demand their voices are heard over the growing climate chaos that we all face. Under the banner of #ClimateStrike and #SchoolStrike4Climate, these young people are a powerful force.  

“Join us!”

Swedish 16-year-old Greta Thunberg has inspired children around the world. She’s been on strike, leaving school every Friday, since August 2018, to “urge leaders to do more to tackle climate change”. The movement has soared globally, and the 24 March strike was the biggest yet. Young people around the world marched out of school to share their rage and demand that governments and leaders take urgent action.

As Thunberg noted, young people left school in at least “1623 places” in “119 countries around the world”:

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Children and young people have also issued an urgent call for adults to join them on a general strike on 20 September. Well-known activists and academics including Naomi Klein, Margaret Atwood, and Noam Chomsky have now backed this call.

At the last strike on 15 March, over 1.88 million children demonstrated in 134 countries. As a press release from UK’s YouthStrike4Climate noted, May demonstrations are planned in over 123 towns and cities from the South West to Scotland:

In London, marchers called for “climate justice, now”:

The latest protests also highlight the urgent:

need for radical reform of the education system to address the ecological crisis as a national priority. [And] an overhaul that drastically increases educational provision.

“The most pressing issue of our time”

The impact of climate breakdown is becoming increasingly visible. So far, 2019 has already seen unprecedented extreme weather such as the devastating cyclone Idai, regarded as one of the deadliest storms on record in the southern hemisphere. Around the world, biodiversity is under alarming threat, and carbon dioxide levels have reached historic highs. Noga Levy-Rapoport of the UK Student Climate Network said that climate breakdown “poses a grave threat to life on Earth as we know it”.

Yet meanwhile, as Joe Brindle of the UK Student Climate Network explained, “climate crisis is barely taught in schools”.

despite being the most pressing issue of our time it often seems more like an afterthought. It’s about time our education system was brought into the 21st century.

Brindle continued:

But this also has to go beyond education. We need to halt climate time-bombs like fracking, the new deep coal mine in Cumbria and the third runway at Heathrow. And importantly we need strong action from all parties to boost renewable energy, create green jobs and address the vast inequalities in our society.

The need to act is urgent. These children and young people are leading the way.

From Rojava:

To Australia and New Zealand:

And from India to Africa:

Young Palestinians marched alongside Israeli teens, saying “this is bigger”:

Around the world, the numbers of young people marching for climate justice has soared. And as others pointed out, this should knock news of Theresa May’s resignation out of the headlines. Compared to climate breakdown everything else is “trivia”:

The UK government and world leaders can’t ignore the powerful force of these children and young people. Their voices and actions are growing stronger day by day. As they must. Because time is running out.

Featured image via Perth School Strike/Flickr

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