Classrooms, lecture halls and offices across the globe are expected to have many empty seats as students and activists go on strike to demand urgent action on climate change, in what is expected to be the largest climate protest in history. The protests, planned in over 130 countries, are part of a snowballing movement sparked by 16-year-old Greta Thunberg’s school strikes outside the Swedish parliament last year. But the UK schools minister has hit out at the students for striking from school.
Hundreds of strikes have been planned across the UK, with the main event kicking off at 11am in London.
But schools minister Nick Gibb has condemned students for skipping class.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We share the passion, as a Government, of young people for tackling climate change, and that is why this Government and this country is committed to reaching net zero greenhouse gases by 2050.
“But we don’t think it should be at the expense of a child’s education because what we want is for the next generation to be as well educated as possible to tackle these kinds of problems.
“And you don’t do that by missing out on an education.
“And even one extra day of lost schooling can affect a child’s GCSE results and their future.”
Millions of young people will march for urgent climate change
Students in Bangkok hold brightly coloured placards
London Mayor Sadiq Khan promised his full support to the strikers and said: “I hope governments around the world who are failing to take action hear the voices of millions of people, young and old, unified in their call for action to save our planet. Our future depends on it.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also supports the protests and is due to address a rally of climate strikers outside Parliament.
He has tweeted a photo from a climate strike and said: “Young people here and across the world are making it impossible to ignore the environment and climate emergency.
“This is the wonderful youth Climate Strike in my constituency – now I’m on my way to the main London demonstration.”
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Students across the globe will strike today
John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said the school strikers have shown that people power could move governments.
He said: “The rest of us now need to step up and stand with the children demanding radical, systemic change, before it’s too late.”
Australian strikes have already kicked off, as hundreds of thousands participated in more than 100 locations, including Sydney, Melbourne and Byron Bay.
Students in Thailand and the Philippines have too began to march, to urge their respective government’s to act on the climate emergency.
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Greta Thunberg will be leading the protests from New York
Strikes in Australia have already taken place, as hundreds of thousands took to the streets
Pictures show crowds of young people holding brightly coloured hand-made placards as they make their way through the cities.
Protestors demand an end to the age of fossil fuels and greater action to be taken by global leaders.
New York City is anticipated to host the biggest climate strike the country has seen in decades.
Thousands are expected at the strike, which is being co-hosted by more than two dozen local and national groups.
Students in Thailand are urging the government to act on the climate emergency
Protestors plan to gather at a park outside New York’s City Hall at 12pm and march a mile down to Battery Park, where Greta Thunberg is scheduled to speak along with other performers and speakers.
The Swedish activist is in New York ahead of the United Nations Climate Action Summit on September 23.
By going on strike today, protestors hope to put pressure on politicians and policy makers to ac on climate issues.
But today’s strike won’t solely be a student endeavour, as environmental organisations, humanitarian groups and employees of some of the world’s biggest brands have also pledged participation.
Strikes took place in more than 100 locations in Australia
Brand’s including Lush, Ben and Jerry’s, and clothing brand Patagonia, have announced they will participate in the protests.
Over 1,5000 Amazon employees have pledged to walk out and Microsoft workers have also said they will join the strikes.
Channel 4 will also participate, as their social media accounts will go on strike between 9.30am and 5.30pm and their usual evening weather report will be subjected to a “special takeover”.