• Joe

Youth Strike for Climate occupies Bath High Street

Updated: Apr 23, 2019

Scores of young people missed school and college to bring their message on climate change emergency to Bath. The action, which was part of a UK-wide protest taking place in about 60 towns and cities across the country, took place midday on 12th April, blocking movement of traffic in the High Street outside the Bath Guildhall. Police officers were positioned in anticipation of the protest, though the action was a peaceful one and the mood in the street seemed positive and with support from onlookers. At one point, the protestors moved aside at the request of the police to allow a bus to go past, but then they occupied the street again, sitting down on the tarmac. The young people used a loud hailer to broadcast their concerns with chants including: "Whose planet? Our planet," and "System change, not climate change." Last October, grim warnings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change raised awareness of the threats posed by global warming. Now it is widely believed that a rise in temperate of 1.5 °C could result in the loss of coral reefs, extinctions of many species such as insects, an intensification of droughts and famines, the inundation of island nations and other natural disasters. Global warming is linked to the emission of 'greenhouse gases' such as carbon dioxide which are believed to trap heat in the atmosphere - and which are linked to industry and the burning of fossil fuels.

One of the organisers of this protest in Bath was a young woman named Frances Fox, a sixth form student at King Edward's School. She spoke against plastic waste, stating that the UK's aim to achieve zero avoidable plastic waste by 2042 was "too little, too late". She said that marine plastic pollution is killing wildlife now. "Plastic bags are banned in 32 countries, why not the UK?" Another of the organisers, Martha Stringer, is studying an art degree at Trowbridge College. Her speech declared that:

It is abundantly clear that previous generations have failed us. Yet, as we ourselves become adults there is hope for the future. Never in history has the younger generation been more passionate or motivated to protect our environment. Last month, 1.5 million children and teenagers struck for climate, and today even more. This generation must reject the unsustainable values and ways of life which our parents have taught us and take control over our future.

Present from a Bath school were Jess and Winnie pictured below. Jess said: "We're here to fight for the change we need," and Winnie added: "The big issues are with large companies, as they have the most impact over the way things are manufactured."

A young man from St Augustine's School in Trowbridge said that the harmful effects of plastics in the oceans, was one reason why he was taking part in this protest.

Shortly before setting off on a march around Bath, the young people read out the four demands of the UK Student Climate Network. These include calls for the Government to declare a Climate Emergency and take steps to protect the earth; to introduce this topic to the school curriculum; to communicate the severity of the crisis to the public; and to lower the voting age to 16 - reflecting the stake that young people have in the future of the environment. For other details, the Bath Youth Climate Alliance has a Facebook group here.

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