Young people in Greater Manchester are planning to join a second school strike on Friday as part of a global day of protest to demand action against climate change.

Alex Derbyshire, 17, is a Member of Youth Parliament for Salford, and is a strong supporter of the movement. She is hoping to join the strike, along with a large number of students from her college in Manchester.

She said: “As the MYP for Salford, I personally believe that any action that can improve the lives of young people should be taken – and this strike is vital.

“Young people are the future, but without actions such as these marches and strikes to call the government into action, there may not be a future for us.”

Many adults have raised concerns about the issue of missing school time, but her response is simple: “Why should we go to school if you will not listen to the educated? Of course education is also vital, but the governments ignoring the warnings from our most educated scientists and professionals send a message to us that our efforts to educate ourselves are not appreciated or cared for.”

Mitchell Mullin, 16, Young Mayor of Salford, is supportive of the global youth movement but does not support a school strike. He said: “I support how young people from all over the world are concerned about the current state of the planet and would like to pressure the government into acting on this.

“However, I do believe that young people shouldn’t take time off school for a mass protest. Only because education is a powerful weapon and if young people get a good education they can use that to join the government and change it.”

The Global Youth Strike for Climate will be the first world-wide event of this type, with children expected to walk out of schools and protest in 60 cities and towns across the UK and 82 nations around the world.

Organisers estimate 1,000 young people in the North-West will take part to the school strike on Friday.

Bryan Blears, Salford Green Party parliamentary candidate, said: “It is a really positive thing that children in Greater Manchester and across the world are standing up for action on climate change.

“While our Westminster politicians are bickering over Brexit these children are leading change, so I hope they will be supported and listened to.

“I think it’s positive that people are much more aware of the problems of plastic pollution and the loss of wildlife in the past few decades, and I think the same is becoming true of climate change.

“Ultimately it will be future generations that will have to reverse the damage we do now, so we owe it to them to start making changes now.”

The strike comes less than a fortnight before Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham holds the Greater Manchester Green Summit to mobilise the city region around a carbon neutrality target of 2038, which some of the strikers say is too late.

Mr Blears added: “Our politicians have failed to intervene on behalf of our environment for far too long. The world is on the brink of a crisis related to over-consumption; with plastic in most of the world’s water sources and scientists suggesting we are living through the world’s sixth mass extinction, as well as the reports which have told us we have 12 years to save the planet.”

In October, a report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world’s leading climate scientists, showed that there are only twelve years left to keep global warming under 1.5 degrees Celsius, beyond which the consequences will be catastrophic.

Currently, average global temperatures are already 1 degree Celsius above pre-industrial average. The consequences are already being felt, from increasingly common extreme weather events to loss of wildlife. Scientists argue that it is possible to keep global warming under 1.5 degrees, but this requires drastic measures to be taken within the next 12 years.

Thousands of children in Britain already skipped school to take to the street and protest last month, calling for government action to tackle the climate emergency.

They were inspired by a global movement led by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg who has been calling for action against climate change by missing school and protesting outside Swedish government buildings every Friday since August. She rapidly gathered thousands of followers and inspired children to do the same across the globe.

In February, the organisers estimated 15,000 young people joined the UK-wide strike. Some politicians criticised them for wasting school time, but they were generally met positively.

Mr Blears said: “I don’t agree that these protests undermine the value of education. If done correctly, with the support of schools and teachers, these action days can be a valuable part of educating the next generation about the importance of protecting the environment.

“Our schools need to be arming our children with the knowledge to take on these important issues in the future.”

Timeline by Lauren Lomax. Featured image by Laura Joffre.

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