There isn’t an adult alive in the UK that hasn’t heard of teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg. She shot to fame after skipping school to strike outside the Swedish Parliament last year. In the 40 weeks that have followed, she has given her trademark blunt and unflinching speeches all over the world. In her speech to the World Economic Forum in Davos in January, she said:
“Adults keep saying we owe it to the young people to give them hope. But I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act. I want you to act as if you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if the house was on fire. Because it is.”
Her School Strike For Climate has gone international, recently reaching over 100 locations across the UK, with over 1500 locations worldwide in more than 160 countries. Children and young people all over the world have been leaving the classroom to tell us adults that they have had enough of our collective inaction.
It’s not hard to see why people would feel compelled to strike. In October last year, the IPCC reported that we have just 12 years to avoid catastrophic climate change. Not a great deal has happened since. Yes, there was much noise in the media recently about the UK declaring a climate emergency, but this wasn’t legally binding – it’s a symbolic gesture that the Government did not support (I explained this in a recent blog post). This planet is our home – our children’s homes – yet Governments the world over are doing little or nothing to protect it.
In March I took my 13-year-old daughter to strike for the climate. The Welsh weather was not kind to us – it rained the entire time – but it did nothing to dampen the spirits of those who came. It was mostly university students who attended, but some children were primary school age, chaperoned by their parents. As they marched from City Hall to the Senedd (Welsh Parliament) it was hard not to feel inspired. Their chants of “Whose future? Our future!” kept me warm.
It was easy for me to take my home educated daughter to a climate strike – we don’t have to keep to regular school times. However, many parents of school-aged children wouldn’t take this approach. I can see why – two of my children are in primary school and the risk of fines or strife with my ex-partner is very real. Some parents I asked said they wouldn’t actively encourage it but would support their children if they said they wanted to. Others have said that missing school simply isn’t the best way forward.
Almost everyone agrees that our planet needs saving, but some people seem to feel that letting children miss school to strike is a step too far.
What do you think – would you let your child strike for their future?
Pin it for later: Would you let your child strike for the planet? on Pinterest