Thousands of climate strikes set to take place around the world

Students, workers and campaigners are gearing up for what could be the largest climate protests in history with thousands of events around the world.

The climate strikes, which will see children and young people walking out of lessons and lectures on Friday to call for urgent climate action, are being backed by unions, charities, businesses and politicians.

The UK Student Climate Network (UKSCN) says more than 200 events are taking place across the UK, with – for the first time – adults being encouraged to join the youngsters as they strike.

UKSCN is calling on politicians to bring in a “Green New Deal” to cut the UK’s emissions to zero and improve lives, changes to education to equip youngsters to deal with the climate crisis and votes at 16 to give them a voice.

It is part of a global movement, inspired by teenage activist Greta Thunberg’s school strikes outside the Swedish parliament, calling on politicians and business leaders to take urgent action to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

The latest strikes come ahead of a climate action summit in New York convened by UN secretary general Antonio Guterres to urge countries to up their climate efforts.

More action is needed by countries to bridge the gap between the measures they have already promised and what is needed to prevent temperature rises of more than 1.5C (2.7F) or 2C (3.6F) and avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who will be addressing a rally of climate strikers outside Parliament on Friday, has taken to Twitter to back the children going on strike, saying they “are leading the way and I’ll be proud to join them tomorrow”.

The TUC Congress has voted to call for “workday campaign action” to coincide with the global action, with workers encouraged to take 30 minutes of action during the day.

The University and College Union (UCU) is encouraging its members to take part in the global day of action and has written to the national representatives of universities and colleges asking them to allow staff to take part.

General secretary Jo Grady said: “The trade union movement is fully behind the global action against the climate crisis; our planet’s future is at risk and now is the time for bold action.”

Some businesses are actively supporting their workers to take action, with outdoor clothing company Patagonia closing stores and offices globally, and taking out adverts to support the strikers.

UK Student Climate Network projected messages on landmarks including parliament promoting the strike (Samuel Keyte)
UK Student Climate Network projected messages on landmarks including parliament promoting the strike (Samuel Keyte/PA)

In Manchester, Patagonia is hosting a sign-making workshop on Thursday evening to help equip strikers and on Friday staff will walk out of the city’s store at 10am to join the strike at Manchester Central Library.

The Co-operative Bank has teamed up with the Unite union to support its workforce to take part in the climate strikes around the country.

Co-operatives UK is backing young people “sounding the alarm to governments globally that ‘business as usual’ on climate change isn’t good enough”.

Beano Studios is backing school children around the world who are taking to the streets, with an open letter promising to publish a sustainability plan to deliver the change its young audience is calling for, before Christmas.

The day before the Global Climate strikes, read our open letter pledging to do more and support the kids who power our business. #ClimateStrikepic.twitter.com/kucGvATBCL

— Beano (@BeanoOfficial) September 19, 2019

Worldwide, there are more than 4,600 events in 139 countries taking place as part of the Fridays for Future movement between Friday September 20 and 27, and campaign group 350.org says more than 70 unions, 500 organisations and 1,000 companies have come out in support of the strikes.

Muna Suleiman, Friends of the Earth campaigner, said most people wanted to fix the climate crisis but politicians needed to act.

She said: “Right when we need our leaders to step up, they continue to let us down.

“From filling the skies with more planes, to backing fracking in the UK and funding oil and gas projects abroad.

“That’s why we’re standing shoulder to shoulder with young people to call on our politicians to deliver emergency climate action now. And we’re asking everyone to join us.”

John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said the school strikers have shown that people power could move governments.

“The rest of us now need to step up and stand with the children demanding radical, systemic change, before it’s too late.

“While many people are nervous about the scale of economic transition we need to preserve our climate, the young understand that if we want things to stay the same, things will have to radically change.”

Gudrun Cartwright, environment director, Business in the Community, a charity and the Prince’s responsible business network, urged businesses “lamenting the potential impact” of the strike to trigger systemic change in the way they operate.

“Many businesses talk the talk when it comes to climate change but only a small percentage walk the walk.

“The time for talking is over. Our planetary crises will not be solved unless businesses do their bit and use their scale and reach to drive change.”

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