On Friday, 20 September, an estimated 20,000 people gathered in Middle Meadow Walk to join the protest leading up to the parliament, as part of the global strike to demand that politicians and world leaders take immediate and effective action against the climate crisis.
A parent told The Student, “We’re helping strike with the students, who will do this more often – this is an official global strike day, so adults are joining in in other cities across the world. It has already kicked off in Australia and we will see this later in the day happening in America.
As the largest environmental protest in the UK, the movement was inspired by 16-year old Swedish Activist Greta Thunberg and was planned across 150 countries. Thousands of school children marched as part of this historic mobilisation, demanding for expeditious change in climate policy and action.
The protest marked the beginning of a week dedicated to global awareness on the climate crisis. Schools are being encouraged to carry out informative activities revolving around the theme of climate justice. When asked what this strike meant to them, a schoolchild told The Student, “We want to save the planet. What is the point in studying and learning when there will be no future? We need to save the Earth. There will be no future if we don’t sort this now.”
Holyrood Park was set up for action and many influential speakers shared their intersectional perspectives on the need for instant, inclusive environmental action. An asylum seeker shared his personal journey of having sought refugee status in the UK and the impending need for the government to tailor more inclusive policies.
He elaborated on how this intertwines with some of the core sustainable development goals established by the United Nations. This includes the need to promote and sustain inclusive sustainable growth and ensure productive employment for all. He stressed how “climate change links to asylum seekers and refugees.”
One of the protesters reiterated this message to The Student, saying: “We are striking today because we have the privilege to do so. Many people in other countries don’t have the right to stand up for climate justice and it is important that we do.”
The head of the Scottish branch of the National Union of Students emphasised the process of fighting for a just and sustainable future for everyone. In this light, NUS Scotland amplified the necessity for “urgent and fundamental reform to restructure our economic systems along with environmental principles.”
Recognising that without immediate and effective action to radically improve the status quo, young people will grow up in a very different world. Leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn and Green MP, Caroline Lucas have promised a ‘green industrial revolution’, similar to the Green New Deal proposed in the United States.
The proposed outcomes are to catalyse the transition to zero-carbon energy, rebuilding the public sector on a zero-carbon economy.
The Scottish Government says, “We are leading by example through bold actions. We are redoubling our efforts and we will end Scotland’s contribution to global climate change by 2045.”
According to the Climate Change Plan 2018-2032, a collaborative approach has been adopted in its policy to transition towards a low carbon Scotland. It recognises that it requires everyone to take immediate action.
While delivering these changes in our individual behaviours require cultural shifts and technological advancement, it also highlights how such protests and constant public discussion propel us towards quicker effective change.
Image: Ellen Blair