Thousands of schoolchildren went on “strike” across Britain on Friday in a protest against climate change, with hundreds rallying in London’s Parliament Square.
Children of all ages chanted “save our planet”, cheered as flares were lit and clambered onto statues in the shadow of Big Ben to call for action, and to raise awareness.
“As humans, we got ourselves into this predicament, it’s our responsiblity to get out of it,” said Hal, a 15-year-old from London.
“As well as being a message to the politicians, it’s a way to spread awareness to everyone,” added the teenager, who was wearing his school uniform “to accentuate the fact that I should be at school”.
The protesters waved makeshift placards reading “Make Earth Cool Again”, “Don’t Mess With My Mother”, “We Stand For What We Stand On” and “I’m Getting Detention For This”.
There were similar protests in dozens of British towns and cities, including Brighton, Leeds, Manchester and Oxford.
Many of the children said their schools had shown them leniency in attending the “Youth Strike 4 Climate” event, part of a Europe-wide movement that has seen walkouts in Belgium, France, Germany, and Sweden.
Young protesters have been gathering in Brussels and other Belgian cities on Thursdays for around six weeks, with approximately 11,000 turning out in the capital this week.
Demonstrators also took to the streets of European cities like Paris, Potsdam and Munich on Friday, according to organisers.
“I’m originally from Germany so my friends already did it, then I saw people talk about it, and I said ‘Oh my god, I’ve got to come,” art student Emily El-Harake, 17, told AFP in London.
The teenager called on politicians to get Brexit sorted quickly in order to focus on “more important issues” like the environment.
“Young people are a lot more conscious of it, most people I know, we buy our clothes second hand,” added friend Erin Mantle, 16, who said their school was supportive of their strike.
“It’s the little things that we are doing but it’s the government that needs to do the big things.”