What is the UK Climate Strike?
Today is the one year anniversary of the first youth UK climate strike. And today, February 14, students and activists of all ages once again head to Parliament Square in London – as well as cities across the UK – to protest government inaction on the climate emergency. What is the UK Climate Strike about, one year later? This is what you need to know, and how you can support the climate strikes in 2020; the most important year for climate activism yet. Last year, Youth Strike 4 Climate coordinated 15,000 students to take to the streets to demand climate action from the UK Government. This year UK Student Climate Network (UKSCN) is running the Youth Strike 4 Climate campaign to ignite the Fridays for Future climate strikes across the country. Organisers from UKSCN underscore the urgency of physical protest in their online invite, stating: "We are waking up to a reality where we can no longer choose to ignore this issue: we must stand up and fight for our future or face an uninhabitable planet."
BIGGEST EVER CLIMATE PROTESTUKSCN organised over 850 demonstrations in 2019, including the Global Climate Strike on September 20 which was part of the largest climate strikes in history – over 4 million people took part worldwide. Greenhouse PR supported UKSN for the September strike, which saw more than 350,000 people in the UK take to the streets, making it the UK's biggest-ever climate protest. The strike was the headline news story on most UK broadcasting channels, and many national papers featured photos of the action on the front pages. The event achieved over 1,890 pieces of online and print coverage and over 25 broadcast features, with an estimated reach of 49 million. The media and public interest was unprecedented for a climate protest and later in the year the first-ever TV climate election debate was broadcast on Channel 4.
UK CLIMATE STRIKE 2020Global Climate Strikes are inspired by the Fridays for Future movement which was started by Greta Thunberg in 2018. But despite mass momentum in 2019, this year youth activism must redouble. Because this is the last 12 months we have to curb the worst impacts of climate change, according to scientists. This November, world leaders will head to Glasgow for the COP26 climate talks. The talks are critical because we will find out if countries are on track to deliver the Paris Agreement, in which 197 signatories legally committed to keep global temperature rise to 'safe' levels of well-below 2C. Countries will be expected to submit more ambitious pledges to reduce emissions by 2030, in the months and weeks leading up to COP26. While the world will be watching Glasgow, President Donald Trump is still set on withdrawing US from the Agreement, so student activists aren't going to sit around waiting for a positive outcome. They, like all of us, want to see ambitious climate action much sooner.
STUDENT CLIMATE DEMANDSSimilarly to other youth movements around the world, the UKSCN hopes its mass protests and climate strikes will raise awareness of their four demands to the UK Government:
- Act on its climate emergency declaration and implement a Green New Deal to achieve climate justice.
- Reform the education system to teach young people about the climate crisis.
- Communicate the severity of the crisis to the general public.
- Give young people the right to vote in elections, conducted via proportional representation.