UK students join mobilizations on climate change

On February 15, tens of thousands of students in the UK joined the school strike for climate by boycotting classes and taking to the streets in around 60 towns and cities. The previous day, the marches and protests in Belgium continued for the sixth successive week

February 16, 2019 by Peoples Dispatch
The UK Student Climate Network demanded that the government declare a state of climate emergency

On February 15, Friday, tens of thousands of students in the UK joined the school strike for climate by boycotting classes and taking to the streets in around 60 towns and cities. The largest mobilizations took place in London, Manchester, Brighton and Bristol, Leeds, Cardiff and Oxford. Thousands of students and youth gathered at Parliament Square in London and demanded immediate and effective policies and action to tackle climate change.

In their statement to Peoples Dispatch, the Revolutionary Communist Group (RCG) said that “thousands of young people have taken to the streets of Britain’s towns and cities in spontaneous action to protest against climate change. It’s up to real revolutionaries to empower the more militant youth and expose the politicians’ empty claims. Follow the young people who block the roads, use mobile sound systems to amplify them, let anyone speak. Don’t hold them back”.

Earlier, around 224 academicians in the UK declared their support for the students’ strike for climate in an open letter, saying, “They have every right to be angry about the future that we shall bequeath to them, if proportionate and urgent action is not taken.“

The UK Student Climate Network demanded that the government declare a state of climate emergency and communicate the severity of the ecological crisis to the general public. Additionally, campaigners want the curriculum reformed to address climate change as an educational priority, alongside a demand to include youth voices in policy making and lowering the voting age to 16.

Anna Taylor of the UK Student Climate Network said, “The amount of students that have empowered themselves to take positive climate action today has been overwhelming. It goes some way to proving that young people aren’t apathetic. We’re passionate, articulate and we’re ready to continue demonstrating the need for urgent and radical climate action”.

The leader of opposition in the UK, Jeremy Corbyn, expressed solidarity with the students. Corbyn tweeted on Friday “Climate change is the greatest threat that we all face but it is the school kids of today whose futures are most on the line. They are right to feel let down by the generation before them and it’s inspiring to see them making their voice heard today”.

Activists of RCG also joined the students in their demonstration on Friday and condemned the irresponsible and insensitive remarks made by British PM Theresa May’s office on the student’s strike.

It was reported that prime minister’s official spokesperson said “everybody wants young people to be engaged in the issues that affect them most so that we can build a brighter future for all of us. But it is important to emphasise that disruption increases teachers’ workloads and wastes lesson time that teachers have carefully prepared for.”

The political committee of Communist Party of Britain (CPB), which convened on February 13, also expressed its full support and solidarity with  the students. After the meeting, the convener of CPB’s Anti-Racism Anti-Fascism Commission, Tony Conway, said, “The young will inherit the planet and so they have every right to insist that vital steps to avoid catastrophic climate change must begin immediately”.

“Only a socialist system can ensure the large-scale economic planning, public investment, public ownership and international solidarity that will be essential to save the planet for future generations”, he added.

The CPB’s Political Committee said humanity now faced a stark choice between “corporate monopolies, market forces and capitalism’s ruthless drive for profit” on the one hand, and “socialism which puts people and the planet first” on the other.

On February 14, Belgian students hit the streets in several cities of the county for the sixth consecutive week, demanding an effective policy to tackle the threats posed by climate change.

In countries like Belgium, students are observing the climate strike every Thursday, following the first mobilization that took place on January 10. On January 22, a wave of student action took place in Europe on the issue, with thousands marching in Switzerland and Germany with the demand that political leaders take concrete action on climate change.

The whole action was reportedly initiated by students inspired by Greta Thunberg, a 15-year-old Swedish girl who addressed the recent climate summit in Katowice, Poland. While addressing the gathering, she said, “Our civilization is being sacrificed for the opportunity of a very small number of people to continue making enormous amounts of money. Our biosphere is being sacrificed so that rich people in some countries can live in luxury. It is the sufferings of the many which pay for the luxuries of the few”.