Young NCB member Maud reflects on how children and young people are getting their voices heard via the on-going school climate strikes.
On both the 15th February and 15th March, I was amongst the estimated over one million school and university students who striked worldwide, demanding their governments respond adequately to the massive impact climate change is destined to have on my generation and our children’s generations. Considering that the UN has suggested we have around a decade to act on global warming before we’re facing an irreversible situation, both governments and the companies need to take action.
As a consumer, we hold a lot of power simply in our money: our cash has as much of an impact on corporations’ values as our electoral rights do in government. Unfortunately for us young people, we have no power to vote and tend to have little money [sidebar - one of our UK four demands is to lower the voting age to 16]. Therefore, it makes sense that our interests aren’t prioritized by both of these systems, electoral and economic. Which is fantastic for people who don’t have to deal with the consequences of our consumerist society, where perhaps, just perhaps (or definitely) the fate of our environment has been shoved to the corner. However, it is young people, less able to vote with both their wallets and democratic vote, who will inevitably be left to pick up the pieces of our broken planet.
My friends frequently express the hopelessness they feel when considering the *very small* fate of our world. Some choose to use this frustration to speak out - strike, write, convert to anyone who will listen to change to a sustainable lifestyle. Others, consciously or unconsciously - shrug and try and press it to the back of their minds. And whilst I admire those belonging to the former group way more, I completely understand the mindset of those lying in the latter; these are depressing times.
Politicians' responses to the climate have been, on the whole, incredibly discouraging and unhelpful. What can politicians do? Maybe actually listen to what we are striking for.
The Government declare a climate emergency and prioritise the protection of life on Earth, taking active steps to achieve climate justice.
The national curriculum is reformed to address the ecological crisis as an educational priority.
The Government communicate the severity of the ecological crisis and the necessity to act now to the general public.
The Government recognise that young people have the biggest stake in our future, by incorporating youth views into policy making and bringing the voting age down to 16.
The sense of community and solidarity from being part of the striking crowd was phenomenal. The chants, the marching, the passionate speeches from incredible young people, all felt so overwhelmingly powerful. I was lucky enough to speak at the strike in my hometown Norwich, and to face the crowd and see the passion in the faces of strikers as young as two, three, all the way up to twenty, twenty-one - a mass of unity and anger and energy - almost brought me to tears, however cliché it sounds!
There’s another national strike on the 12th April - during the Easter half term for most - which I think really emphasises how much this isn’t about missing school for the sake of skiving. As many people keep saying: What is the point of an education without a future, a planet, in which to enjoy it?
Shoutout to any adults reading this, also - if you’re a parent, please, please, please support your child if they decide to strike. And if you’re a human, please think about the small ways your lifestyle impacts the world. Your money has power and if you’re able to vote, think carefully about what politicians are promising you - more trees or more fracking? What will be better for the planet in the long-run?
I hope to see you all there on the 12th!