Climate Strike: ‘I Don’t Want to Have Acid Rain Because I Hate Dying’

Well before the rally start time of 11am, Westminster was already packed, as thousands of protesters flooded in having skipped school, left work, or closed for the day to attend Friday For Future’s Global Climate Strike – the world’s largest ever climate protest, that took place simultaneously across 200 different locations in the UK and 150 countries worldwide. 

“We are running out of time,” came the voice of 18-year-old Anna Taylor, co-founder of the UK Student Climate Network (UKSCN), booming from speakers along Millbank. “We have 11 years to cut emissions by 50%. We are here because we are desperate, angry and scared.”

The strike came just three days before the UN’s climate summit in New York, where countries will discuss how to reduce emissions by 45% over the next decade and to net zero by 2050. 

Some environmentalists and scientists, however, believe the targets aren’t fast enough to effectively address climate change – including Craig Bennet, UK Chief Executive of Friends of the Earth, who said the targets were “too slow”, and Extinction Rebellion who branded them “a death sentence”. 

Caroline Lucas addressed protesters yesterday by reiterating her concerns about the targets. “When your house is on fire, you don’t call 999 and ask for a fire engine in 30 years’ time,” she said.

Jeremy Corbyn, who has recently been criticised for Labour’s support of reopening a coal mine in Cumbria, spoke at yesterday’s event and insisted “it’s about the whole world and how we act together to create climate sustainability”. He also condemned Trump’s decision to walk away from the Paris agreement as “disgraceful”.

Away from the speeches, lines formed for vegetarian meals provided by Hare Krishnas, people playing instruments weaved through crowds, whilst children’s choirs sang- “this is an SOS from the kids. You can do better than this”. 

Fridays For Future, organisers of the Global Climate Strike, is a student lead movement whose central demands are to stop burning fossil fuels and to secure an immediate energy revolution. Next Friday, the 27 September, students are striking globally once more and asking that adults join them. 

We went to ask people in London what exactly they were striking for. 

Isabella Fauset, 9, George Fauset, 9, Tom Fauset, 5. 

Novara Media: What brought you here today?

Isabella: I don’t want the world to die, basically, and …

Tom: We don’t want acid rain!

Isabella: Yes we don’t want to have acid rain, and we don’t want the world to be dead, because there is no planet b. It’s our future, don’t we get to decide our future?

What changes do you want to see happen from today?

Isabella: I want the government to actually start helping. To ban plastic or dig up less coal and make better rules that we can follow.

George: I want the government to dig up less coal, so then people won’t burn it as much, otherwise the nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide will go into the clouds and make acid rain.

Tom: I don’t want to have acid rain because I hate dying.

Amber, 12, Mae 12, and Seth, 9

Novara Media: Why did you miss school to be here? 

Amber: There is no point in going to school if we don’t have a future. And we feel very strongly about this. Today I had PSHE, Geography and History. Some of my teachers would rather I was in lessons, but a lot of them realise the depth of the situation.

Mae: I also think there is no point going to school if we don’t have a future. I’m afraid we won’t be able to do anything in time. We want zero carbon emissions by 2025.

Seth: I can’t change anything if I’m at school.

What changes do you want to see happen from today? 

Seth: I want to see people making more changes in their everyday lives. Like maybe instead of driving in a car somewhere, walking.

Mae: I want the government to do something about the situation and to notice us.

Amber: I want massive changes in the way we live our lives because its affecting our planet and it doesn’t belong to us.

Maddie Jones, 17, Victoria Philips, 17, Jed Law, 17

Novara Media: What brought you here today?

Maddie: We’re here because we want the government to take action. Climate change is happening at an incredibly fast rate. At the moment they are not doing enough. We’ve got 11 years before the effects become irreversible. It’s our future that’s being affected the most, so it doesn’t make any sense that we’re not being listened to.

Jed: I’m kind of fed up of people focusing on non issues and talking about things like sovereignty at a time like this, when in 50 years time there won’t even be any room for sovereignty.

Victoria: The big issue isn’t Brexit, it’s climate change. We have no voice. We’re not enfranchised. We can’t do anything.

What changes do you want to see happen from today?

Maddie: I want the government to declare a climate emergency and act on it.

Victoria: Votes at 16.

Jed: Take down the companies that are causing the most damage.

Yordan, Brett Oertel, Varvara Semenova, Saeed Sanei

Novara Media: What brought you here today?

Yordan: It’s kind of scary seeing the condition the world is in and simultaneously seeing the attitudes that we have towards the environment. The environment is not equally represented in politics. So much time and attention is spent on other things, when we should all know that this is the most important issue.

Brett: I’m here because there’s more and more scientific reports coming out that say its not unlikely that there will be a complete climate catastrophe in our life time, which is pretty fucking bad. I’ve got little sisters, and I’m scared for them.

Saeed: I’m frustrated with the lack of action and politicians constantly saying nice things without doing them. Ultimately it’s all of us who will be affected, and we don’t have that much time left.

What changes do you want to see happen from today?

Varvara:  I want to see a radical international policy.

Brett: I want to see people stop voting for politicians who are clearly against stopping climate change. The fact that Trump was voted in and is almost certainly going to get another term scares the fuck out of me.

Yordan: I want to see more people take to the streets until something actually happens.

Mich Danso

Novara Media: What brought you here today? 

Mich: I felt compelled to come and show my support because I’m a mother, I’ve got a young child, and it’s not necessarily going to be in my lifetime that we’ll be affected, it’s going to be in hers. It seemed foolhardy to not be here today, it’s in everyone’s interest to save the planet and stop  climate change, and for global leaders to wake up and listen. It’s the only time I’ve been out to strike for something in my entire life time and it seemed like it absolutely had to happen. So that’s why we’re here.

What do you want to see change from this protest?

I think just attitudes of people. Not everybody is here today, but I’m hoping that by us turning out more and more people will take up the cause and that will create change.

Father Andrew Moughtin

What brought you here today? 

Andrew: I’m here because I believe God’s given us an amazing earth to live on and if we want to love our neighbour we need to love the earth, and that’s all part of my faith.

What do you want to see change from this protest?

Andrew: I really think it’s important that we listen to the urgency to the voices of children and young people, but also the voices of the scientists, who are telling us this really is important and urgent right now. I think there needs to be an individual response, we all need to encourage each other and hold each other to account – so use less fossil fuels, use less of the earth’s resources, but also there needs to be legislation. The government really needs to take this seriously as an urgent issue.

George Dodd, Marian Dodd, Mid 80’s, retired

Novara Media: What brought you here today? 

George: We’ve just celebrated our 60th wedding anniversary. We’ve got children, we’ve got grandkids, we’ve got great grandkids, and it’s about them. We’re not going to be here much longer – hopefully a little while yet – but it’s for them that we’re concerned. But I personally am very optimistic, so many young people are taking this thing seriously, and it is a very serious issue, it’s more important than Brexit and all the other lot. Hopefully people will start to find solutions to all the problems caused by global warming soon. Because if they don’t, we’re in a mess.

Marian: We’ve been campaigning about climate change for about 50 years, and it’s only recently because of Greta Thunberg that people have woken up.

What do you want to see change from this protest?

Marian: Global leaders needs to get cracking. Stop all this pollution. Somethings gotta happen. They can’t just keep on chatting about it and chatting about it- we need to do something.

Francesca mills is a freelance journalist based in London who reports on humanitarian issues. See frankiemills.org for more of her work. 

Published 21st September 2019

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