A-Level student Selina has been attending as many school walk-outs as she can. Today, she’s here with friends, having headed down to Westminster from North-West London.
What does the Global Climate Strike mean to you?
Selina: This is something that is really important to us, as the younger generation. It’s our futures that we’re protesting for. We won’t have anything, if we don’t protest. It’s important that we get out onto the streets and talk about it, otherwise our voices just won’t be heard. With everything that’s going on right now, things are hard, and putting climate change on top of that – knowing that our world could disappear within 12 years – it’s ridiculous.
Greta Thunberg has really mobilised action around climate change. Does she make you feel hopeful?
She’s one of the most important figures out there. She really brought this whole thing to life, and she’s 16. So young. Having her voice heard worldwide is incredible. She’s met Obama and all these influential people, and what she’s done is amazing.
Have your teachers been supportive of the strikes?
Whenever there’s a strike, I go. The head is not for it, because we’ve got A-Levels, but all the geography teachers support it. They’re like, go! We’ve come down from North West London today.
Yasmin and Keaton have skipped work for the day to support the Global Climate Strike, with a home-made Charli XCX-themed sign in tow.
What impact do you think today’s protest will have?
Yasmin: You have to show up, that’s the first step. Even if you’re not an activist, or the face of a movement, I think being here is the biggest part.
Keaton: It’s all about numbers, isn’t it. The bigger this is, the more it’s talked about and shared, the more difference we can make.
What action do you think needs to be taken to get to 2099, and beyond?
Keaton: We need to plant hella trees! Governments need to listen to these protests, and all these things we’re trying to say. And they need to stop sending money to wars and shit, they need to fund saving the planet.
Yasmin: We hear things like, use a reusable coffee cup, don’t flush wipes – and that is a movement. But we have corporations, massive companies like Shell and BP, who are literally burning the planet. I think this protest is the first step, but we need corporations from the top down to change what they’re doing. I’ll try my best to be sustainable, go veggie, go vegan, but I don’t think anything we’re doing individually is enough. You need change across all levels.
What inspired you to get involved?
Yasmin: Greta Thunberg is why we’re all here. Friday strikes wouldn’t be a thing, if it wasn’t for her. What she’s doing is incredible. She doesn’t take anyone’s violence, ableism, ageism or sexism. She’s not giving a shit about it.
Why did you decide to head down to the march today?
James: There’s been twenty years, with a lot of promises and plans, and not a lot has changed. A few things when it comes to renewable energy, but not enough. We need a massive change in all walks of life, and concerted pressure from the government.
You’re repping Greta Thunberg on one of your signs today. Does she inspire you?
James: Yeah, I think she’s a real leader for people of all generations across the world, which is very impressive for a school girl who began protesting by herself.
Have your teachers been supportive of you striking today?
Esther: They haven’t really mentioned it to be honest!
James: We left it a bit late to give them notice. We’ll apologise afterwards!
Pam and Ian, from Brent, have been going to climate change protests for the last twenty years. They’re here today to call for action from governments around the world.
Why did you decide to join today’s march?
Pam: We’ve come all the way from North West London today! We had a mini-demonstration outside the civic centre before we come down here. People matter, and we’ve only got one planet to live on, and I don’t want it to give up on us. It will do, if we’re not careful.
Ian: There may still be time to change things. We hope that there is still time. We’ve been campaigning for a very long time with Friends of the Earth and other organisations, and it’s great that there are large numbers of people – particularly young people – who are catching onto this, and decided to do something. We’re very encouraged by it.
What do you think is the biggest challenge when it comes to getting politicians to make tangible changes?
Pam: It’s a hard campaign. When you argue with politicians about climate change, they say yes, but then they don’t do all that much. Climate change always seems to be the thing to deal with the month after next. There’s always something ‘more urgent’ like Brexit, knife crime or domestic abuse. Those things are truly urgent too, but then climate change never gets to the top of the pile, and inextricably, it goes on and on, and gets worse.
What do you think needs to happen next?
Pam: Elect a Labour government!
Ian: We need to change things in a root-and-branch way, and the way that we organise society needs to change, too. We live in a throwaway economy, and we need to move towards something more circular, with more equality.
Kumi, Catia and Jessica are marching today wearing hats made out of recycled materials
Firstly, where did you get the headwear?!
Kumi: I’m a costume designer, and our hats are made out of up-cycled materials, and waste!
What action are you demanding today, from the government?
Catia: They need to actually take action!
Jessica: Yeah, they need to actually take action, and not just say that they’re going to do all of these things.
Catia: They need to prioritise this as the number one issue, above Brexit. They need to work with organisations and collaborate, and take it more seriously.
Maria, Beth and Sarah have all been given the day off by their employers to join the Global Climate Strike
Why have you joined the march today?
Maria: I just care about the planet. I study ecology, and I think we should all care more about the environment. Each one of us tries to do something, but even just coming to protests like this and being a bit more aware about what’s happening can help. It feels like it’s not being dealt with sometimes.
Sarah: This is great. It highlights things. You think you’re doing your bit, and then you come to something like this, and it’s made me think again. Shit, sometimes I am slipping on the things I think are important. It’s good to give people a kick up the arse.
Beth: It’s one thing each individual doing their bit, and that’s important, but we need businesses to be making some of those choices, and to realise that we want this. It’s not just a few outsiders. People are uniting.
Was your boss supportive about you striking today?
Sarah: Our boss said, ‘absolutely, just go’. I wonder what other people’s workplaces are saying. I work for a charity, helping kids with cleft palates in developing countries – so I’m able to come to stuff like this, which is how it should be. I have friends who are just going to walk out of their offices, even if they’re not allowed.
What action do you think needs to be taken?
Sarah: It’s an endless list, right?
Beth: There needs to be more action from the top. I’ll be completely honest, I’m not half as clued up about it as I know I should be. Lots of shortcuts are being taken where there shouldn’t be, and there are corporations – quite frankly, corporations that I buy from – who aren’t doing things in the right way. We need action to make these changes enforces.
Members of Savages, The XX, Wolf Alice, Black Honey, and Alt-J all joined today’s Global Climate Strike, and marched with Music Declares Emergency. The collective has been backed by the likes of The 1975, Radiohead and Bon Iver, and their campaign hit 2,000 signatures this week. According to organiser Peter Quicke, who also runs independent record label Ninja Tune, it’s critical that we take action urgently.
Why did you come down to the march today?
I’m striking from Ninja Tune today, and I’m here with Music Declares Emergency. A bunch of us in the music industry started a campaign to raise awareness about the climate emergency, which is obviously a terrifying prospect now. In a few years time, if we don’t act, we’re probably going to end up with feedback loops with the arctic tundra melting, and methane going into the atmosphere and causing more warming and melting. We need to do something about it, and speak out. Governments and corporations aren’t taking responsibility for their actions, and they need to be legislating for carbon taxes, renewable power and transport infrastructure. It’s got to happen now, otherwise we’re going to end up in a situation where there are thousands of refugees coming from countries in the world that can’t sustain them, and there’s going to be a lot more violence, populism, and racism. We’re not fucking about.
Foals held up one of your banners last night at the Mercury Prize, and there are loads of artists here today. That must really help to spread the word?
I just heard that Bon Iver signed [our declaration] the other day, and lots of people are here now. It’s all about speaking out, and there are lots of big artists getting involved. The main thing we can do is speak out and lobby governments for change. Ourselves, we need to reduce our emissions and eat less meat, consume less wastefully, less air travel, etc. Artists will need to take planes to go on tour, because we don’t want audiences to follow them around the world, and obviously if they are speaking out they are helping the situation.
As well as signing up to support Music Declares Emergency, The 1975 have taken various high-profile steps in the past few months to amplify the importance of taking action against climate change. Along with introducing brand new print-presses at their merch stands so that fans can upcycle old clothes, the band also teamed up with environmental activist Greta Thunberg for the searing protest song ‘People’. Dirty Hit also have shut down their office today to march, says Chris, who is an A&R at The 1975’s label. “ Nothing is more important than this – there are bigger things that need solving than music,” he says. “When there’s a position of power, you ought to use your voice. The 1975 are a great example, and they’re brave enough to do that.”
Sophia, who works in music PR, is also marching today with her entire company – she’s in agreement that climate change is one of the most pressing issues facing the planet. “We came down because the planet is burning!” she says, summarising everyone’s reason for being here.