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Fridays For Future: Youth Climate Strikes in Sheffield

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Elijah (11) and Patrick (14), two of the Sheffield school strikers, discuss the strikes and what they are hoping to achieve through their actions.

What are we worried about? Deforestation, mass extinctions and knowing we have only 11 years to get to negative emissions are some of the things that are worrying us. The Paris Climate Agreement is clear - we have to take urgent action now to stay under a 1.5°C rise in temperature.

The youth strikes have been part of a global movement, started by Greta Thunberg in Stockholm. Greta has been sitting outside the Swedish parliament demanding action on the climate crisis. Her individual action has grown, with students protesting, marching and rallying in hundreds of countries across the world, protesting world leaders' failure to protect the environment and stick to the Paris Agreement.

by the time we are old enough to be politicians it will be too late

People often say we should stay in school or hold the marches at the weekend. We have been asked why we don't study to become climate scientists or politicians. But we already know what we need to do to tackle climate change and by the time we are old enough to be politicians it will be too late. Striking during school gets media attention. We feel we are being positively problematic - the government can't ignore us. Our latest action was in the school holidays. This shows we are serious and not just in it to miss a day of school.

Our demands are:

  • The government declares the climate crisis a national emergency and implements a Green New Deal to achieve climate justice.
  • The government recognises 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 national curriculum is reformed to address the ecological crisis as an educational priority.
  • The government communicates the severity of the ecological crisis and the necessity to act now to the general public.
Our second strike was a really important one because it was international, with 1.4m students in 2,233 cities and on all continents, including Antarctica, taking action. In Sheffield, around 1,000 students took part. We were amazed by the turnout.

After that, we organised a meeting and set up an Instagram to help get information out about the next strike as it was happening in the holidays, meaning we had less time to organise in school. We did a protest training course, done by Extinction Rebellion, about how to be safe and how to talk to the media. We also designed our own climate strike signs.

For that third strike, on 12 April, we met at Devonshire Green and marched to the Town Hall, chanting lines like, "There is no Planet B" and, "What do we want? Climate justice!" It was really important to be part of a national strike and do it in solidarity with the rest of the country.

The next strike will be on Friday 23 May. We are planning to hold a meeting soon to try and organise as best we can in all schools across Sheffield. We hope to make the next strike as big as we can.

If you are thinking about coming along to a strike day and want to know what it's like, there is a microphone and anyone can speak, so everyone from primary school students to university students has their say. We have both spoken and really enjoyed it. It can be a bit overwhelming the first couple of times, but the atmosphere is great. There is a real sense of hope. We feel like we are changing the world.

Find out about future organising meetings and strikes and join the movement: | #FridaysForFuture | #YouthStrike4Climate

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#YouthStrike4Climate at Sheffield Town Hall, 12 April 2019

Next article in issue 134

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