More than 200 sign letter to the Guardian saying pupils right to be angry at inaction
Matthew TaylorWed 13 Feb 2019 12.12 GMT
More than 200 academics have voiced their support for this week’s school climate strikes, in which thousands of young people are expected to take to the streets in towns and cities across the UK.
The academics, including almost 100 professors, say the “tragic and desperate facts” of the unfolding climate breakdown – and the lack of meaningful action by politicians – leave young people with little option but to take matters into their own hands.
In a letter to the Guardian, they write: “[Those taking part in the strike] have every right to be angry about the future that we shall bequeath to them, if proportionate and urgent action is not taken.”
The number of those taking part in Friday’s strike is growing rapidly, amid mounting evidence of the scale and impact of the climate emergency. There are more than 50 confirmed events from Fort William to Hastings, with more added each day.
The UK day of action is part of a movement that started in August when Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old schoolgirl, held a solo protest outside Sweden’s parliament. Globally, up to 70,000 schoolchildren each week are taking part in 270 towns and cities.
Individual demonstrations have already been held in the UK, but Friday’s coordinated day of action is expected to see the biggest protests by students and young people in the UK since the student strikes of 2010 over tuition fees.
There has been some criticism of the strikes by climate change deniers and politicians who claim the strike amounts to little more than truanting.
Earlier this month the Belgian environment minister was forced to resign after falsely claiming the country’s intelligence services held evidence that the tens of thousands of children skipping school were being directed by unnamed powers.
But the strike has been backed by one of the UK’s leading teaching unions and the academics say the young people who are prepared to organise and take part in the strike are setting an example that others should follow.
“We are inspired that our children, spurred on by the noble actions of Greta Thunberg and many other striking students all around the world, are making their voices heard.”
The letter highlights the growing signs of climate breakdown, from the latest UN report that warns there are 12 years to avoid the worst impacts of global warming, to record-breaking droughts and heatwaves, warming oceans and melting ice sheets.
The academics added: “It is with these tragic and desperate events in mind that we offer our full support to the students, some of whom may well aspire to be the academics of the future, who bravely plan to strike on 15 February to demand that the UK government takes climate action.”