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Surrey students join youth climate change protests

Climate change protest

Published by Tom Cantoni at 2:48pm 15th March 2019. (Updated at 2:50pm 15th March 2019)

Students across Surrey have joined a global movement in walking out of class to protest about climate change.

They gathered on Guildford High Street from 11am this morning (15 March) with banners calling for more government action on the issue.

Similar marches are happening in over 100 countries worldwide. In the UK, children in 60 towns and cities are thought to be taking part.

It is the second series of protests, coming exactly a month since the first one on February 15.

Local student Petra Todd from Guildford was there today and told Eagle:

"We're here to show the government that they need to start doing something about this global catastrophe because nothing is being done and it's so serious.

"We had the option to go into London and do it, but then we thought no we're going to do it in Guildford because it sends a bigger message to the government. I think it's more powerful to go in a smaller group."

Protest
Petra Todd (left) with fellow protesters Hattie Twigger-Ross and Petra Brewer

The 15 year-old said they have four demands for the government. They are:

  • That the government start listening and telling people what to do
  • That the government incorporate climate change - and what to do about it - into the national curriculum  
  • That the government raise more awareness about climate change
  • That the government bring the voting age down to 16

Questions have been asked over the protests, with children missing school to take part. They were previously criticised by the Prime Minister, with Downing Street saying it would increase teachers' workloads and waste lesson time.

Hattie Twigger-Ross, from Guildford, doesn't agree though.

At today's march the 15 year-old said:

"Why should we be in school and studying for a future if we don't even know if we're going to have that future?

"Why should we be sitting in lessons when the government is just not doing anything about this catastrophe that is going to affect our lives?

"Really, we've had no other choice, because it makes so much more of a statement by saying we're willing to give up our education to protest about this issue because we think it's so important."

Protest

Jim Le Fevre from Haslemere took his 9 year-old daughter, Iris, to the march.

Holding his 'I'm So Proud Of My Daughter' banner, he said he hasn't faced much backlash over taking her out of school.

He told Eagle:

"There's been quite a few parents who have been quite cross with themselves for not coming.

"I've informed the school and the headmaster at our school is a very good, thoughtful thinking person and obviously he is constrained by his rules and he certainly hasn't been critical. Deep down I think he's probably quite proud.

"I think we were all learning about this together (climate change). As a grown up I'm really embarrassed about how all the other grown ups are acting and through the eyes of Iris you realise it is unfair and it's silly, so I'm really proud of her."

Protest
Jim and Iris Le Fevre

Today's actions were part of the Youth Strike 4 Climate campaign, launched by Swedish teenage activist Greta Thunberg.

The 16 year-old has since been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, with politicians saying she has started "a very important peace contribution".

She gained international attention after speaking at the UN climate talks in Poland in December and at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January, where she said: "On climate change we have to acknowledge that we have failed."

 

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