YOUNG people in Redditch have taken to the streets today, Friday, March 15, demanding action on climate change as part of global demonstration taking place in 123 countries around the world.
Gathering outside the Town Hall they called on Redditch Borough Council to join 37 other local authorities in declaring a climate emergency and take action against climate change, for instance by committing to going carbon neutral.
The protest was addressed by local teenager Alisha Zahid who read out an open letter from organisers Youth Strike 4 Climate.
She said: “Humanity is causing the sixth mass extinction of species and this global climate system is at the brink of a catastrophic crisis.
“Our generation grew up with the climate crisis and we will have to deal with it for the rest of our lives.
“Despite this most of us are not included in the local and global decision making process. We are the voiceless future of humanity.
“We will no longer accept this injustice.”
Their protest attracted a host of wellwishers and supporters, including Borough Councillor Anthony Lovell (Con, Winyates) and the Reverend Steve Levett from the Ecumenical Centre.
“We are simply not taking climate change seriously, the loss of biodiversity, everything to do with the natural environment is being swept under the carpet,” said Coun Lovell.
“We have got to as a society change our ways, otherwise in 20 years time where are we going to be?”
He also backed the protesters’ call for the Borough Council to declare a climate emergency.
“I’m for it,” he said.
“Something needs to be done – for instance our insect population is 60 per cent lower, butterflies are disappearing and the thing is, the young people of today do not realise what has already gone. My heart breaks for them.”
The Rev Levett added: “I am glad to support the stand these young people are taking. We have got to take climate change seriously and change our ways.
“I’m not a Roman Catholic but Pope Francis has challenged everyone on climate change to make an ecological conversion and I increasingly believe he is right.
“Usually it’s the adults making the decisions and it challenges us when young people speak out and it gives me hope that our you people are grasping this issue.”
Alisha Zahid said she was delighted so many people had braved an early downpour to support the day of action.
“I hope this gets the Borough Council and central government to take climate change more seriously because we need to act fast before it is too late.”
Claire Davies of Redditch Green Party added: “It’s inspiring to see young people take this action, to see them grow in confidence, be politically active and apply their voices.
“It’s quite an honour to see it all happening.”