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Climate change strike: Third student protest brings London roads to standstill

Demonstrators took to the streets for the third mass protest in as many months.

Schoolchildren march through Cambridge city centre (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Schoolchildren march through Cambridge city centre (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Students protesting as part of an international youth campaign demanding action on climate change brought part of central London to a standstill.

Organisers behind the Youth Strike 4 Climate movement had said “sizeable events” would take place in major towns and cities around the country as students took to the streets for the third mass protest in as many months.

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Hundreds of students bring traffic to a standstill in Oxford Circus (Victoria Jones/PA)

Hundreds of students marched past Downing Street where they chanted “Theresa May, hear us say, climate change is here to stay”.

The march began at Parliament Square where organisers led chants, including “We want, we want, justice” in the style of Queen song We Will Rock You.

As cars were brought to a halt to wait for the march to pass the students chanted “engines off”.

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Cambridge schoolchildren take part in a ‘die-in’ climate change protest (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

A sit-down saw Oxford Street and surrounding roads brought to a standstill, and while police moved most of the protesters away, a defiant group stayed on, to the annoyance of some road users.

One protester was taken into a police van after refusing to move from the road, but the Metropolitan Police said there had been no arrests.

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Students joined the protest organised by Youth Strike 4 Climate (John Stillwell/PA)

Organiser Cyrus Jarvis, 16, a year 11 student from London Academy school in Barnet, North London, said: “The police tried to frighten us with arrests but we just moved on.

“We are really sorry for anyone who did have issues because of us, but unfortunately this is what we have to do to get our point across to the Government.

“If we don’t cause disruption they don’t listen to us and they haven’t listened to us in the past.”

Francesca Peduti, 17, from Bedford, said: “Our future won’t exist if our Government won’t find a way to combat climate change. This needs to change.

“I have a two-year-old sister. I want her to grow up in an Earth that is safe.”

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A protesting student holds up a placard (John Stillwell/PA)

Beth McLaughlin, 38, a psychologist from London, brought her children to the event so they could learn about how individuals create change.

Her son has been on all the Fridays For The Future school strikes so far, she said, adding: “I’d rather that they didn’t have to miss school, but it makes more of a point and is more likely to effect change.

“Climate change is the most important issue there is, it makes all the other issues irrelevant really.”

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Protests in Piccadilly Circus (John Stillwell/PA)

Sixth-former Nova Levy-Rapoport, 17, an organiser for the UK Student Climate Network, said: “There is so little time that we have left before we enter such a volatile future and if I was not here today it would be a literal betrayal to myself, my family, my friends and my future.”

Those going on strike are demanding that the Government declares a state of climate emergency, and reforms the curriculum “to address climate change as an educational priority”.

They are also campaigning for the voices of young people to be considered when it comes to policy-making and for the voting age to be lowered to 16.

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This is the third day of strikes by students (Gareth Fuller/PA)

The strikes come in the wake of a UN report which warned that limiting global temperature rises to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, beyond which climate impacts become increasingly severe, requires unprecedented action.

That includes cutting global carbon dioxide emissions by almost half within 12 years.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove has previously spoken of his support for the strikes, saying: “Collective action of the kind you’re championing can make a difference, and a profound one.”

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