“There is no planet B” – Sheffield students join the youth strike for climate

Students across Sheffield went on strike last Friday, joining a global protest against climate change.

The ‘Youth Strike 4 Climate’ has allowed students from schools, sixth forms and universities come together to voice their frustration at the government’s approach to the environment.

Ella, a Sheffield secondary school student, said: “I’m striking because I think missing one day of school is nothing towards showing that we really care and it’s the only way we can have a voice”

Evie, another secondary school student from Sheffield, added: “I think it’s really important we help change our climate because if we don’t start now we’re not going to get anywhere.”

The protests have generated controversy, as many students are walking out of their lessons to attend.

Nathan and George, sixth form students who volunteer with Sheffield’s Extinction Rebellion group, understand the concerns of teachers around safeguarding.

Nathan said: “We can understand the teachers concerns, particularly around safeguarding. But there’s no point in safeguarding the kids for 2 hours this Friday morning if you’re not safeguarding their future.”

The pair instead believe that teachers should join students on strike.

“Bring the teachers out, treat this as an educational experience, while simultaneously fighting to protect these kids’ futures.”

Several school students gave speeches expressing their anger at choices being made about the climate by older generations, arguing they would be the ones who would have to live through the consequences.

Some students even sent a musical message to Prime Minister Theresa May, singing Pink Floyd’s ‘Another Brick in the Wall’ with altered lyrics.

One student speaker said: “You think about climate change and people constantly dismiss it thinking it’s a problem for a future generation.

“Well I can tell you you’re wrong, recently I heard we have 12 years to reverse the effects of what we have done before it becomes irreversible.

“To put that into perspective I would be 27, I wouldn’t even be 30.”

Simon Murch, a primary school teacher and member of Sheffield’s branch of the National Education Union, recognises that young people see the urgency in tackling climate change.

He said: “They’ve taken it on themselves to start something. I don’t think they know what their objectives are other than wanting people to take notice and hopefully the politicians will do something because it’s not a case that politicians will do the best for people, it’s a case of they listen to who shouts the loudest.”

While Mr Murch understands the issues with teachers supporting the strikes, leading to students being out of school and travelling into town on their own, he also recognises the importance of what students will learn from attending the protest.

He added: “If they can see that they are making a change and that they are doing something which is empowering, I think that’s great.”

The strike started when Swedish school student Greta Thunberg sat outside Sweden’s national parliament, arguing that attending school is pointless if politicians were ignoring the growing climate crisis.

The strikes have grown into a global movement 100 countries with over one million students believed to be taking part. Thunberg has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for her work.

The strikes started in August 2018 and are set to continue through Thunberg’s Fridays for Future campaign.