YOUTH STRIKE FOR CLIMATE ACTION IN BATH

Photos by Athenias Mangin

School children and university students joined forces on Friday 12th April for another “Climate Strike” protest. People gathered in front of Guildhall, blocking the street to protest over environmental inaction. The protest is part of a global movement with strikes being held across the world.

How the protest unfolded

After practicing their chants, the protest headed onto North Parade and engulfed the Abbey square, where the speaker read out the first request of the movement: that a state of climate emergency be declared by the government. A street singer, who at first seemed surprised at the flood of young people, accompanied the demands with music, to the bewilderment of tourists and shoppers alike.

The protest  then took to the South Gate shopping centre, in front of Urban Outfitters. A student speaker targeted the shops around her as instigators of environmental degradation through their “fast fashion” industrial practises; the utilisation of heavy machinery, water and chemical dyes, combined with the carbon footprint of international shipping have been accused of causing a rise in environmental damage over the years.

Wera Hobhouse, MP for Bath, joined the protest at its next stop, by Kingsmead Square. She stated “I’m here to listen to you, I’m taking your fight into Parliament and making sure our parliament listens up. I wish more of my colleagues would actually take notice as well. I think the government has failed us so far. I understand urgent action is needed.”

The choice of Bath media not to cover the event

No local media outlets, apart from Bath Echo, decided to report on the event. While many professional photographers were present on the day, there was a conscientious choice from editors not to publish the story. Bath Time can confirm that the editors of an important local news website and paper decided not to publish the story over fears pictures of children would present a legal challenge.

We can suppose, however, that minors attending have parental approval to skip school, and that parents are aware of the possible mediatisation of a political demonstration. In our view, the supposition that parents would take legal action against a small local media outlet, over the publication of a picture featuring their child in a crowd, slightly misreads the purpose of families’ attendance.

In regard to the scale of the protest which took place on the 12th April, it can be assumed that the age of the protesters discredited them in the eyes of older members of the press; undoubtedly if a middle-aged group this size took to the streets of central Bath tomorrow, more than one outlet would decide to cover it. This example is likely to be symptomatic of a wider trend: young people’s voices are not sufficiently reaching the decision-making sphere because many don’t consider these voices “serious” enough.

Bath Time chose not only to send a reporter to capture the Bath climate strike, but also to make these pictures the central feature of the article.  

Bath has declared a climate emergency

Dozens of areas, including Bath, have declared a “climate emergency”. While there is no definition of this status, it broadly entails the acknowledgement of the problem, and puts the environment at the forefront of a council’s agenda. Areas of London and Manchester have also declared a state of climate emergency.

Locally, the movement is supported by the MP Wera Hobhouse, various councillors, as well as many head-teachers who are encouraging students to attend.

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