Sometimes it only takes one person to change the course of history.

Just look at Greta Thunberg, the Swedish schoolgirl who hit the news recently because of her climate strikes. It started in August last year when Greta sat outside Swedish Parliament every school day for three weeks in protest at Sweden’s lack of progress on tackling climate change. In September she vowed to strike every Friday until Swedish policies ensured a safe path to a below 2°C future, in line with the Paris Agreement. Her posts on Twitter and Instagram went viral and the #FridaysforFuture and #SchoolStrike4Climate movement was born. See her here telling the BBC why she is doing it.

Greta Thunberg in Brussels. By Jan Ainali, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=74941583

I applaud the passion, courage and determination of Greta and the movement that she has inspired motivating so many young people - including my son - to act. In just 8 months it has gone from one teenage girl sitting alone outside Sweden’s parliament to 1,209 youth strikes planned across 92 countries for Friday 15 March.

Greta has also spoken to the UN, at the World Economic Forum in Davos and at the climate talks in Poland. Off the back of her speech in Brussels, the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker pledged billions of euros towards combating climate change. She has raised awareness on a scale that most organisations can only dream of, and received support and endorsement from a wide range of people including Angela Merkel and The Elders – the independent group of global leaders (originally set up by Nelson Mandela) who work together for peace, justice and human rights.

Greta has been joined by passionate UK youth voices too, like Bella Lack and Dara McAnulty both of whom brought nature and the ecological crisis into focus as part of their strikes. Anyone who heard Bella speak at the People’s Walk for Wildlife last year cannot fail to have felt hopeful for our future; and Dara’s Twitter feed is a festival of all that is wonderful about our natural world and why we need to protect it.

There are strong feelings on both sides about the youth climate strikes, but which of these should make us more angry: the children fighting for a liveable future or the politicians that can’t even be bothered to turn up to a debate on the biggest issue of our time?

School strike in Berlin by Leonhard Lenz https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=76774572

Screen-grab of the Net Zero carbon emissions debate in Parliament on Thursday 28 February 2019

We often feel frozen into inaction when we read the latest findings on climate change. It’s only natural, but we can’t let that stop us. Young people are so angry at the state of the planet they are inheriting from us that they are going on strike across the world. Look at what Greta has achieved in such a short space of time. We can’t all be like Greta but there is always more that we can do as individuals, and there is an awful lot more that governments can do, and they need to do it now.

Nature is in crisis and our climate is heading towards breakdown. On Wednesday 26 June we’re joining forces with The Climate Coalition and Greener UK for The Time is Now – a massive lobby of parliament in London calling on the UK Government to tackle these issues. We want much greater ambition on our emission reduction targets; and we want government to put in place, for the first time, ambitious targets for nature’s recovery. 

Come and join us and let’s show the children of the world that they are not in this alone. Details of how to register for the lobby will follow soon, but in the meantime, if you are keen to take part please do email us at campaigns@rspb.org.uk.

Anonymous
  • Thank you for providing an email address for individuals to let you know we wish to participate in campaigns. I have long believed that charity NGOs could benefit from the actions of individuals to a greater extent than the opportunity is given them at the moment, even if we do not wish to take such extreme action as Greta, if her action is indeed extreme in the circumstance.prevailing. My email will detail measures which the RSPB may consider benefits it's aims but is not yet an accepted method for interested individuals to help.