My name is Olivia and I am 14 years old. I am full of hope, having just got back from my second School Strike4Climate. Just hours ago I was stood outside Birmingham’s Council House shoulder to shoulder with more than 1000 children to protest the lack of government action regarding climate change.
It was amazing to see so many students striking, inspired by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year old school girl who ended years of inaction six months ago when she said that she wouldn’t go to school on Fridays until the Swedish government met its climate obligations. The movement has grown massively since then as thousands of students joined her in responding to scientists’ warning that we only have 12 years left to stop the worst effects of climate change.
This news should have pushed climate change to the top of governments’ agenda, but they just kept on with business as usual. So now it is up to the younger generations to make them do something about it.
This is a state of emergency and it’s time to act.
I first decided I had to so something when I realised that despite papers being full of stories about record temperatures and melting ice-caps – the government response has been silence. Then I read about students striking in Sweden, Belgium and Australia and realised I had to do something here in Birmingham.
My opportunity came when my grandfather told me that the school strikes were finally coming to the UK. I knew I had to be involved. I arranged a meeting with my headmistress and convinced her to give me an authorised absence.
Five days later I found myself outside the Council House with 30 other children from schools across Birmingham and Solihull.
I had headed to Victoria Square with my friend Harvey via Friends of the Earth Birmingham where I met with an amazing lady called Libby who gave me advice about how to make the day as effective as possible (how to talk to councillors and get the strike recognised on social media). Her advice was invaluable, because as soon as we got to the Council House we were met with reporters from BBC Midlands Today and Free Radio Birmingham.
Having been filmed, and having our pictures taken we went in to speak with the Councillors. The British strike has several demands, including lowering the voting age to 16, but we have also come up with specific requests for Birmingham City Council.
First and foremost, we want them to join cities like Bristol and Manchester and declare a climate emergency. This would mean finding ways to be Carbon Neutral by 2030 and calling on the government to take the issue seriously.
Secondly we want them to think about how schools deal with climate change – recycling should be compulsory, global warming should be a key part of the curriculum and public transport to be cheaper and more easily accessible.
These may seem like small steps, but if each city takes climate change seriously, the government will have to follow through.
The next strikes are 12th April and 10th May. We hope even more children will take part, and those who can’t please write to your councillor and ask them to support the motion being put forward in April for Birmingham to declare a climate emergency.
To get involved follow: #fridays4future and #schoolstrike4change on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram