On the morning of the 15th March 2019, rallying cries from 500 young people could be heard across Birmingham city centre.
“What do we want? Climate Action! When do we want it? Now!!”
The march was part of a global movement founded by the campaign ‘School Strike 4 Climate’. Their aim is to get local and national governments to take the threat of climate change seriously. In Birmingham, our mission was to get the City Council to declare a ‘climate emergency’.
The atmosphere on the day was energised! Vibrant signs and banners decorated Victoria Square whilst speeches from students, councilors and campaign organisations. These highlighted the frustration that young people feel towards inadequate environmental policies as well as expressing hope for significant change! In particular, Julien Pritchard, Green Party Councillor for Druids Heath & Monyhull, spoke about his pride in the Birmingham students involved in the strike and encouraged the council to take action effective against climate change.
As a young person, I attended the march as I believe that it is vital to take part in environmental demonstrations. I think that there is a collective belief among young people that the older generation has failed us. A lack of legislation and education has resulted in the extinction of species, permanent loss of habitats and global warming which will lead to imminent catastrophic sea level rise. In my opinion, leaders that continue to ignore the threat of climate change are not leaders that I wish to have. Take my university for example (University of Birmingham), it is an educational institute that prides itself on being a forward thinker in the field of sustainable research, however, it continues to invest £5.9 million in fossil fuel companies. This is not right and as a result, a group was formed to challenge them to divest by submitting an open letter to the Vice Chancellor signed by over 1200 students. Young people are beginning to make real changes!
The Youth Climate Strike on the 15th March has ultimately proved that young people are not in denial and not ignorant of climate change. Across the world, an estimated 1.4 million young people took part in planned strikes and there are many more to come. It is often claimed that children can be stubborn and this is definitely the case when their very futures are at stake!