Global Climate Strike: Cambridge School Strike 4 Climate protesters reveal their reasons for marching
Thousands of school children who abandoned their lessons today for the School Strike 4 Climate protest listened as a 10-year-old boy led the speeches before they began their march on the city.
The strike attracted around 2,000 people, many carrying home-made banners, and heard speeches from schoolchildren from around the city before setting off at 10am from Shire Hall as part of the Global Climate Strike.
Nico Roman, co-chair of the Cambridge Schools Eco-Counciland a leader of the King’s College School Eco-Society, was met with huge cheers as he addressed the crowd.
He told them: "We are marching today in 158 countries alongside over 5,000 other events for all the people already facing heatwaves, forest fires and droughts due to climate change. As Greta Thunberg and other strike leaders have said, we have learned that if we didn't start acting for our own future nobody else will. Make the first move!
"We are the ones we have been waiting for and even the smallest child can make a massive difference. We may not be big and powerful but we are many. We are striking all week and there's a massive one on Friday at King's Parade. There will be vigils from 5pm to 7pm every evening next week. Please come to support us, to sign our banners and petitions, to have your faces painted, to hear our music and songs, to join us or even just wish us well.
"It's actually my 11th birthday this weekend and that would be the best birthday present ever. We are here because the climate change is getting worse and not enough is being done. We are here to speak out for children worldwide and for all future generations."
He was then followed by children from a range of Cambridge schools who read out speeches and poems to loud cheers.
He was joined on the steps of Shire Hall by Ishy Bird from Cambridge Science School, who said: "We are currently fighting a war but it is not a war with guns and bombs and soldiers, it is a war against ourselves and our way of life... it is a war that will affect us all - not just those awake enough to care. It's said the road to hell is paved with good intentions but how will there be a heaven is a hell when there is no one there to believe in them how there will be songs of hope and fears if no one is there to sing them? How will there be bright and colourful hopes and dreams if no one is there to dream them? And how will we save our future if there is no future left to save?"
Magnus, 12, from Netherhall garnered one of the biggest cheers when he praised children for joining the strike, even without their teachers' permission. He said: "Well done to those people whose schools who don't let them go on our strikes."
Other youth strikers we spoke to included:
Lily Goodwin, aged 15, Comberton Village College.
"I have come here because we think the government needs to change more what they are doing I turned vegetarian when I was six because of climate change so it has always been important to me. At the moment deforestation is a big worry - it has been on the news a lot."
Aarohi Vira, aged 15, Comberton Village College.
"I'm hoping a lot of people will band together and show support for tackling climate change like everyone has been doing around the world. It's the fact we need to something public to support tackling climate change. Its important to look at your own choices but we need to make more public displays about it."
Tomos Bowen, 10, Somersham Primary.
"Climate change is destroying our world and if it carries on the islands will go under water and the world won't be there any more and this is about other animals habitats as well, not just ours to destroy."
Poppy Stamp, 16, Hills Road Sixth Form
"It feels really good to be part of a global movement. My friends are saying they don't want to miss out on their education but that's the point - we need to miss out on our education. This is how serious it has become - the earth is dying. That's everyone's problem. So it is a duty, almost, to be involved.
Juliette Stoop, 14, Chesterton Community College.
"I think people view the climate emergency as like a school assignment that seems really far away and you disregard it. But the 12 months we have left is not far away. People think we have still got time but we have to do something about it its going to take a long time to take action and it has to start now. Obviously Brexit is a big deal but the climate emergency is being pushed aside by Brexit. I have been to all the strikes except one. My school didn't authorise the first one but now they do and I have seen a few teachers here, which is really encouraging. The first thing they said on BBC Radio 4 this morning was about the Climate Strike, so that is good. I hope we are nit just seen as a group of children who don't know what they are talking about."
Faraj Ahmed, 14, Chesterton Community College
"We've come here because we we believe climate change is strongly affecting out world and our future and if we don't make a change in a few months we will have massive issues in the future and it will be the end of the world. We are trying our best to make sure government stands up to climate change because currently they are really slacking. I have been on every single march. I'm quite angry considering the government should be listening to us. We have done this several times. All they have done is declare it as a national emergency but they haven't done anything to solve it."
Gracie Jackson, 13, Sancton Wood.
"Its really important for us to be here and take time out of our education. It's such an important cause and if we don't act now it will be too late. This is my second strike and it is really empowering to know so many people feel the same way about climate change. I feel the next generation is much more hopeful and when we grow up there will be big changes. I do feel adults are just focusing on unimportant things."
Lola Hooper, 13, Coleridge Community College.
I've come with some friends because we want to make a difference and help people realise how big a problem is. My biggest worry is the imminent death of everyone! It is the first time I have been. There's lots of people here I hope it makes a difference. I would like to see our school doing more recycling.
Rob Lake, Cambridge.
We are here because we have a grandson who is 3 months old and we feel its really important to take part in this demonstration for him. We share these young people's fears about the future. With the Amazon forest burning and the Arctic ice melting and the sea levels rising there are more and problems linked to climate change.
Fiona Lake, Cambridge.
Our grandson is called Otis. I'm incredibly proud amazed and quite moved by the fact all these young people have turned up although it is very disturbing all these children have to come out and protest. I have never seen a protest with so many children before. We haven't done enough for them.
Jessie Hawes, age 17, Sawtry Village Academy.
"I think today is really important for our future and its not being spoken about enough in parliament, it is being sidelined and I don't think that's right."
The marchers headed towards King's Parade where they staged a 'die in' at 11.15 by lying on the ground. Mobile phone alarms all went off in unison at that time to represent the assertion by protestors that "time's up" for action on climate change.
Green MEP Catherine Rowett, who spoke after the end of the protest at King's Parade, said: "It was very encouraging to see all these young people and the adults who supported them on the march today. I believe they will be the leaders of tomorrow and they are getting a great education in learning to talk about science and economics in order to get their views across but we don't have time to wait for that. So, I'm imploring people to listen to them now and start taking action. It's OK to declare a climate emergency but you actually have to do something about it."
Meanwhile, students at Cambridge Regional College held their own rally at lunchtime to raise awareness about climate change and at around 12.30pm groups of college students and staff gathered at the front of the college to show their support for the campaign.
Sophie Day, Cambridge Regional College Student Union President, said: “We want people to consider their carbon footprint, and the impact that their day to day activities can have on the planet. We encouraged students and staff to walk or bike to work or consider car sharing.
“Instead of driving to the local shops, why not walk, do not use plastic disposable water bottles and instead use a refillable one, remember to turn lights off after yourself. These are all small changes that can make a big difference,” she said.
“Students and staff at the College decided not to strike but we did want to show our solidarity for those who did, and to use this opportunity to encourage our communities to do more to protect our planet."