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School climate strikers call for people to join them in latest protest

More than 150 protests are planned in the UK from Cornwall to Scotland on Friday September 20 as part of a global climate strike.

Youth strikers are asking people to support their latest walkout calling for urgent climate action (Aaron Chown/PA)
Youth strikers are asking people to support their latest walkout calling for urgent climate action (Aaron Chown/PA)

By Emily Beament, PA Environment Correspondent

Youngsters are urging people to join them in the streets for demonstrations as part of what is expected to be the largest global climate strike.

More than 150 protests are planned in the UK from Cornwall to Scotland on Friday September 20, as children and students leave lessons and lectures to demand urgent action to curb global warming.

They are being supported by more than 80 environmental groups, aid agencies, social and religious organisations, and by unions, with the TUC Congress voting to call for “workday campaign action” to coincide with the strike.

Youth strikers are calling on parents, businesses, working people and politicians to get behind the action and demand urgent steps to tackle the climate crisis.

The UK action is part of an estimated 2,500 events that will take place around the world, including New York, where teenage activist Greta Thunberg will take part in a strike, having sailed to the US by yacht to avoid flying.

The global movement, inspired by Greta’s weekly protests outside the Swedish parliament, has helped push climate and environment up the agenda, along with major UN scientific reports on the impacts of rising temperatures and the Extinction Rebellion protests.

Thousands of young people took to the streets in strikes in the UK in February, and in March as part of a global day of action.

The YouthStrike4Climate campaign is organised by the UK Student Climate Network, which has co-ordinated more than 550 demonstrations this year.

I am taking action now so I can look at my children in the eyes and know I did all I could Anna French, parent

Next Friday’s global protest comes ahead of a UN climate action summit in New York, with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urging world leaders to boost national ambitions for cutting greenhouse gases to tackle the crisis.

It comes as polling by Opinium of 2,000 UK adults for the UK Student Climate Network found more than six in 10 (61%) believe in supporting the youth climate strikers and driving climate action.

In the UK, students want action including effective policies such as a “green new deal” which would cut carbon and at the same time reduce household bills, provide better quality housing, and deliver zero-carbon infrastructure and jobs.

Jessica Ahmed, 16, from London and part of the UK Student Climate Network, said: “The Government’s failure to tackle climate change and implement effective policies can’t be ignored anymore.

“On September 20, millions of people will be taking action globally, demanding change and policies that will protect our future, such as a Green New Deal.

“Instead of focusing all their energy on Brexit, we desperately need our politicians to put their time, resources and money towards dealing with the worsening climate emergency. Time is running out.”

Anna French, a mother of two from Bedfordshire, who is going on strike, said: “Seeing the children take to the streets, I felt a great sense of shame that we have left this problem to them.

“We have a responsibility to do everything we can to help secure them a safe future.

“I am taking action now so I can look at my children in the eyes and know I did all I could.”

And John Sauven, executive director at Greenpeace UK, said older generations had failed and it was the children whose voice people now had to listen to.

“They’re asking us to join them as they hit the street once again on September 20.

“The question for adults today is – when your children and grandchildren ask if you stood with the schools strikers will you be able to say you were there?”

PA

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