1.4 million students join school climate strikes

19th March 2019

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Christopher Faulkner Gibson

An estimated 1.4 million students in more than 125 countries skipped school last Friday to protest government inaction on climate change.

Inspired by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, the strikes took place in more than 300 cities and 40 languages, with around 150,000 turning out in Montreal and 100,000 in Milan.

Fifteen Indian cities were involved. About 2,500 people gathered in the streets of Bogot√°, Colombia. Cape Town reported at least 2,000 protesters, and there were 1,000 in Hong Kong.

Thunberg, who has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, said: “Governments have failed to respond properly to the dramatic challenge of our climate crisis.

“Our generation, the least responsible for the acts of the polluters, will be the ones to see the most devastating impacts of climate change. We are not going to stand still watching their inertia.“

The strikes are expected to continue across the globe over the coming months, with the #FridaysForFuture organisers already said to be planning the next ones.

And in the UK, it appears the wider public is largely supportive.

A poll from Opinium found that more than half of British adults think young people should be able to miss school to protest climate change – outnumbering those that disagree by more than three to one.

Less than a fifth oppose the protests, with support rising to three in five among those aged 18-32.

The strikes are thought to have significantly increased awareness around climate change, with 70% of respondents saying it is important for greenhouse gas emissions to be cut to zero.

This comes after a group of 182 MPs wrote a letter to the UK prime minister asking her to back a 2050 target for net zero emissions across the economy.

Signatory Zac Goldsmith said: “Heat records are being made, ecosystems are undergoing extraordinarily rapid changes, lands are becoming harder to farm, and the spectre of a global refugee crisis is looming.

“In this light, it seems absurd and mean-minded to admonish children for missing school to ring the alarm bells. This challenge is gigantic and we still have a long way to go.“

Image credit: Shutterstock


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