Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Students coming together at climate change rally shows younger generation's strong desire to help save planet

It is difficult to think of another political issue apart from climate change which would have attracted such huge numbers of young people onto the streets of Belfast yesterday. File image. (Darko Vojinovic/AP)
It is difficult to think of another political issue apart from climate change which would have attracted such huge numbers of young people onto the streets of Belfast yesterday. File image. (Darko Vojinovic/AP)

Editor's Viewpoint

It is difficult to think of another political issue apart from climate change which would have attracted such huge numbers of young people onto the streets of Belfast yesterday. The crowd was a clear demonstration that the students are concerned about the future of the planet and what we are doing to it.

Of course some took the opportunity to simply get a day out of the classroom, but the concern of the vast majority on this issue was evident. And they certainly made their voices of disapproval heard when told that the two local unionist parties had declined invitations to address them.

The DUP and one teaching union expressed concern that some students were present who had not got permission from their principals to attend the rally. It was a legitimate point and there could be legal ramifications but their actions have to be seen in the round.

Young people are those who have the most to lose from climate change. With many experts now conceding that global warming is gathering pace at a faster rate than anticipated, there is every reason for pessimism and for demands on politicians globally to play their part in tackling the problem.

It was encouraging to see a mass political rally taking place in Northern Ireland which did not have either an Orange or Green tint. Global warming is non-party-political and the young people have shown that it is such issues which most exercise them. The hot air of our usual tribal politics holds little appeal for them.

However their calls for action - like so many others in Northern Ireland - fall on deaf ears since there is no local administration here to create and adopt policies which could lessen the threat to the planet. But then they already know from their experience of education and the lack of resources put into their schools that our politicians are not easily moved to carry out the duties for which they were elected. Fortunately the young people have wider horizons than so many of their elders and can see the problems being stored up for the future.

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