Socialist Worker

School climate strikers furious at government inaction

by Sarah Bates and Sophie Squire
Issue No. 2692

Marching in London

Marching in London (Pic: Socialist Worker)


School students marked their ninth strike for the climate on Friday with angry demonstrations throughout Britain.

“This is more important than missing one day of school,” school student Elsie told Socialist Worker on the London action.

“Throughout history it’s continuous action that has made a change—we can’t wait, we have ten years left.”

Some locations saw sizeable turnouts, with 500 students massing in Bristol, 200 taking to the streets in Manchester and 150 in Portsmouth.

Around 1,000 students joined the London mobilisation, which angrily snaked through much of Whitehall and passed the Home Office and the Department for Education.

Many students wanted to talk about the genuine fear of a future riddled by climate chaos. Lucas told Socialist Worker, “This is our future. Some people are getting it but we need more people to be worried about what’s going on.”

Emily had been on the first climate strike in London in February 2019 and said the past year had seen a growing recognition of the climate emergency.

She said students had to fight for “the government to put its promises into action—I want to see the emissions from big companies to be more controlled.”

“There’s a lot of anger at the older generation but a lot of people didn’t realise what they were doing. Either way, this is our last chance.”

Chants

Anger at the government’s inaction was a consistent theme among the placards and chants.

“Consumers and producers are to blame—but a government needs to make a change,” said Isobel.

Eda said it was important to continue striking, because, “Here you get the sense that your voices are being heard—and you’re not the only one.

"The government isn’t doing anything about it and it’s really frustrating.”

Angry chants erupted through the crowd when the march reached the Home Office, and a banner slamming the government’s recent deportations was unfurled.

Marchers chanted, “One struggle, one fight, open borders, climate strike”.

Striker Sean said, “The deportations shows disdain for migrants, and disdain for the working class and everyone. It’s that sort of attitude that’s caused the climate crisis.”

As anger at climate change boils over - how can we save the planet?
As anger at climate change boils over - how can we save the planet?
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And some strikers carried placards demanding justice for refugees.

“Fighting for climate refugees is extremely important. If the climate continues the way it is, we’re all going to be climate refugees and need help at some point,” said Eda.

The police were more aggressive than they have been in previous strikes—intimidating strikers off roads. Outside Downing Street, one cop pulled a teenager off a wall by their leg.

One year on from the first climate strike in Britain, the strike in London was much smaller than other demonstrations.

Isla said this may be because, “People don’t think it’s going to make a difference because it’s ‘just a march’ but it’s more about having a presence.”

The battle against climate catastrophe is too important to let the school students fight alone. To make an even bigger impact they need to be joined by wider layers of activists.

The upcoming global climate strike day—4 April—will be a critical opportunity for workers to join the student strikers on the street and fight for our planet.

As striker Ellie said, “We can’t say that someone else should do it—we need to do it. We won’t stop until something changes.”


Around Britain

Portsmouth action

Portsmouth action (Pic: Jon Woods)


Portsmouth: Around 150 school students joined the climate strike rally in Portsmouth. There was real determination to build for future strikes and to mobilise for COP26. Many young people were interested in the anti-racism demo on 21 March. There was also lots of discussion about system change and revolution. Jon Woods

On the streets of Newcastle

On the streets of Newcastle (Pic: Nathan Johnston)


Newcastle: The strike saw around 150 people march through the city centre. There was a good level of militancy and a number of speakers noted that this was a class struggle. Chi Onwurah, the local Labour MP, brought her support. Nathan Johnston

Bradford

Bradford resistance (Pic: Neil Terry)


Bradford: the strike was attended by around 30 young people, mainly from Beckfoot school. The issue is pertinent in Bradford because if Leeds Bradford airport is expanded—currently being debated by Leeds City Council—then neither Leeds nor Bradford will be able to achieve any climate change targets nor improve air quality. Neil Terry

Hundreds in Birmingham

Hundreds in Birmingham (Pic: Jay Williams)


Birmingham: around 350 people joined a march.

Determined in York

Determined in York (Pic: Harkan Kirk-Karakaya)


York: Students rallied in York. 

 


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