The school strikes for climate were inspired by Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenager famous for her direct way of speaking and knack of hitting the nail on the head: “What is the point in going to school for a future that the world’s leaders do nothing to protect? … To learn scientific facts that the world’s leaders do their best to ignore?”
In Stratford, the youth strikes began when activists with young children organised a strike on their behalf. Expecting only a handful to turn up, we were surprised when hundreds of students from the secondary schools turned up en masse, prepared with chants and banners.
More than the rest of us, it is these children who will bear the burdens of climate breakdown. Lecturing them for not obeying authority and attending school is hypocritical when those authorities are not keeping up their end of the intergenerational social contract, and looking out for the future of these kids. If the “authorities” are not behaving authoritatively, or respecting scientific authority, teaching our children a superstitious respect for them is dangerous. Again, it is Greta who has put it best:
“This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you. You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. Yet I am one of the lucky ones. People are suffering.”
Greta Thunberg, at UN Summit in New York
Later in the year, the youth strikes were broadened into general strikes, and hundreds of adults joined in too, whilst around the world millions took to the streets.
Together with the local branch of YouthStrike4Climate, we organised a procession through town, ending at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, where we submitted a letter asking them to drop sponsorship from BP, which allowed this fossil fuel giant to “artwash” its ongoing polluting activities, and heard speakers from BP or not BP and Friends of the Earth. A few days later, after a meeting with the youth strikers organised by BP or not BP, the RSC dropped BP from its sponsors.
Further climate strikes, saw us hear speeches from three of the four candidates standing in Stratford for election to parliament, and delivering trees to the councillors to highlight the need for more tree planting in the area.
Read more about it here.