Students 'go on strike' for climate emergency
19th September 2019
PUPILS from across Tonbridge will leave school early and march up the High Street on Friday [September 20] to raise awareness of climate change.
The schoolchildren are staging a ‘Climate Strike’ to coincide with similar actions by young people all over the world.
Students are being encouraged to meet at the railway station at 3.15pm, in order to avoid missing a significant part of the school day.
There will be speeches at around 3.40pm, after which strikers with drums and placards will march up the High Street and assemble at the Big Bridge at 4.30pm.
Young people from The Judd School held a similar strike there in February, while there were also protests by pupils outside Sussex Road Primary School.
Meanwhile environmental activists Extinction Rebellion [XR] are staging their first meeting in the town tonight [Wednesday].
The new group is holding a free public talk upstairs at The Beer Seller Pub in the High Street from 7pm, entitled Climate Change: Heading for Extinction and What You Can Do About It.
The inaugural event is part of a nationwide campaign, and local organiser Ruth Connelly said: “The purpose of the talk is to give everyone who might not be fully aware of the scale of the climate and ecological crisis the facts based on the best available science, and describe what Extinction Rebellion’s approach is to doing something about it.”
She warns that some of the content is not suitable for young children. The talk is free but those who wish to attend should sign up in advance by visiting eventbrite.co.uk and searching for Extinction Rebellion Tonbridge.
Ms Connelly said they would be backing the Climate Strike: “Extinction Rebellion is supporting the youth strike and encouraging people to join them next Friday if they can.
“We have written to local headteachers to let them know about the strike and encourage them to support any students or staff who wish to take part.”
The campaign groups Youth Strike 4 Climate and Fridays for Future, which are inspired by the Swedish teenage activist Greta Thunberg, are also calling on adults to join in.
Fran Long, a Green Party and Friends of the Earth activist told the Times: “I have long been concerned about the environment.
“However, writing to councillors and MPs, delivering leaflets etc over several years has not brought change.
“I feel that it is only since last autumn, when I joined XR rebels taking peaceful direct action blocking the bridges in London, that the Climate Emergency has been given adequate coverage in the media and become part of mainstream political debate.”
She added: “We are happy to see the Climate Emergency has been recognised at both national and local level government, and discussed in this paper by politicians of all parties.
“But we are dismayed to see business continue as usual for example, despite air travel being a major cause of climate emissions, Gatwick airport is set to expand.”
Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council [TMBC] voted to recognise the climate change ‘emergency’ in July, passing a motion to be carbon neutral - with net zero emissions- by 2030.
Many other local authorities, including Kent County Council, declined to aim for this date.
TMBC’s motion also calls for progress reports and a fortnight ago the Street Scene and Environment Services Committee confirmed that it would publish a draft climate change strategy by May 2020.