On Friday millions of students across the world once again refused to go to school and instead gathered in public spaces demanding governments end the age of fossil fuels. From Afghanistan to New York students were joined by parents, workers, and everyone else who wants a future. I went to my local demonstration in Derby where hundreds of us gathered to listen to students speak about their fear and anger at the lack of action, while union and charity representatives spoke in solidarity with them.
While I was listening to passionate and informed students of all ages Education Secretary Gavin Williamson was ten minutes away criticizing the movement calling it ‘grossly irresponsible’ and spoke about the importance of going to school to learn about climate change. Well if he had bothered to walk the 0.4 miles to the protest he would have seen and heard first-hand that these students don’t need to be educated they are informed of the crisis we are facing and to suggest otherwise is condescending. They do not need education they need adults to act on the information we have something Gavin Williamson does not seem interested in despite acknowledging the importance of dealing with climate change he has voted against measures designed to prevent climate change sixteen times since 2011. That is what is irresponsible not missing one day of school a month but voting against measures requiring a strategy for carbon capture and storage for the energy industry as Williamson and 268 Conservative MP’s did in 2016.
There were teens from schools across Derby including those that explicitly told students not to join the protest. Many of the children face punishment for attending including fines, detentions and expulsions but for them and their parents protesting is worth it. While the Education Secretary and some teachers are telling students that it is irresponsible to miss a few hours of school the children have a very clear message ‘Grades don’t matter when you have no Future’. We will continue to be on the street demanding action because we know it works. This weekend at conference the Labour Party has announced a Green New Deal to move away from fossil fuels, interest free loans for electric cars, and a four-day work week all policies designed to counteract climate change and work towards net-zero Carbon emissions and I’m sure the Tories will try and placate us with policies next week at theirs but with an Environment Secretary that generally votes against climate action my hopes are not particularly high.
These protests have been happening for around a year and have already massively influenced politics today we must and will continue to pressurize politicians to vote in favour of our life and if they don’t, we must replace them with people who will.