Standing in a crowd of hundreds of schoolchildren singing ‘Mama, I don’t wanna die, sometimes I wish I’ve never been born at all’, I couldn’t help but feel a pang of sorrow for our generation. How can I not be frustrated by a situation where children need to strike from school because the system we are living in is destroying the planet on which our survival depends? How can I not feel a sense of despair that we have reached a situation where 5-year-olds have to take to the streets to tell our politicians to think about our future, rather than their vested interests and deep pockets?
Yet, as the crowd thickened, and the atmosphere electrified, this feeling of anguish started being eroded by a sense of hope. With hundreds of voices chanting ‘Whose planet? Our planet. Whose future? Our future!’, and hand-crafted banners as far as the eye could see, the passion of these youngsters was tangible and contagious. The incredible energy around me conveyed a real hunger for change, and the shared understanding that if this these young protestors don’t see change, they will not stop demanding it.
We have cause for hope. Action seems to be happening. On Thursday, after months of pressure from the Extinction Rebellion group and Bath citizens, the Bath and North East Somerset council declared a climate emergency. This means that they have committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2030. Pressure on policy-makers is convincing them to turn vague talk into real plans for action. Here is the evidence that engaging politically can make a real difference, and a case for optimism in this generation that our voices can be heard.
One complaint? The lack of university students. Waving at us from the U1 didn’t quite make the grade. I don’t think I need to convince you that you should care about climate change. You’ve seen the unpredictable, absurd weather patterns. Here, and for now, they are just another thing to complain about. Elsewhere on the planet, these changes are already destroying lives. Climate change is here. It won’t wait for you to finish your degree. We need action now.