UKSCN (UK student climate network) is one of a variety of organisations which have recently taken to the streets to protest the Government’s lack of action in tackling the pressing issue of climate change. It is comprised of young people who state that they are:

‘mobilising unprecedented numbers of students to create a strong movement and send a message that we are tired of being ignored’.

The frustration from them is clear and from this frustration has come motivation. They don’t have the power and authority of politicians to create change, but they don’t see this as a reason not to at least try. Many of the members cannot even vote but the urgency of this issue has led them to find their political voices far earlier than some generations before them. Ignoring the young may be the biggest mistake society can make. We mustn’t underestimate the power of the powerless.

Young people seem to see this issue much more clearly than many politicians and voters because they see it for what it is: an emergency. There is so much concern regarding Brexit and other issues of internal relations dominating the headlines that the one issue that unites us all is being pushed aside, partly out of fear but also complacency. Discussion of other political issues is obviously essential but the young seem to have the unique insight into the fact that if we don’t resolve the issue of climate change in the short time frame scientists have given us, then there won’t be any other issues to debate in generations to come.

After all, these young people aren’t the ones who elected a climate-change denier into the White House. The fact that Trump opted out of the Paris agreement proves that generally, politicians are not as concerned about this as they should be. Although many nations, including the UK did fortunately join the Paris agreement, it has never been the main issue in political parties’ manifestos or the deciding factor in who comes to power every time there’s an election. This is simply because it isn’t what the electorate have been looking for in the past and politicians run on a supply and demand basis; they tell us what we want to hear.

But this new generation are changing that before they’ve even had the opportunity to elect a government. They are making their statement and people are listening.

The issue with climate change is that ultimately it isn’t political, or at least it shouldn’t be. It is a case of life or death for humans, animals and the environment. It shouldn’t be debated or denied it should just be prevented.

Rising temperatures and the consequent flooding is having a devastating effect on communities, and species are becoming extinct at an alarming rate. The problem is that these things aren’t visible to a politician sat in Parliament and the generations that will suffer the worst impact of our ignorance are yet to be born. This seems to have created an out of sight, out of mind mentality. Youth Striker for UKSCN Keira Tann stated that she believes the up-and-coming generation are taking more direct action because:

‘climate change is something that is going to directly affect our generation and generations to come and it is an issue that’s been ignored by older generations … we need to act fast and gain recognition for such a huge problem before there are detrimental effects’.

This generation don’t have the luxury of ignoring the problem in the hope that it will sort itself out before they ever have to personally deal with it. They see the impact it is already having and fear for their future, and their children’s future.

The issue of climate change demands huge changes from the Government which aren’t easily brought about. These young people’s decision to not attend school in favour of marching through the streets inevitably captures attention, it simply cannot be ignored: to do so would be considered irresponsible on the part of politicians. After all, they are more likely to pay attention to school absences than to the rising temperature of our planet and its catastrophic effect.

So, if it isn’t apparent already, to ignore the young people of today is almost impossible. They shouldn’t have been handed this responsibility, but the lack of action has forced them to react and they don’t appear to be backing down anytime soon.

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