Thousands of schoolchildren on Friday went on “strike” across the UK 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 about six weeks, with about 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, organizers said.
British Prime Minister Theresa May’s office said it was good that young people were “engaged in the issues that affect them,” but that the protest “wastes lesson time that teachers have carefully prepared for.”
The movement was inspired by the actions of Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old girl who held a solitary protest outside the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm last year.
She responded to Downing Street’s criticism of the demonstrations on Friday.
“Political leaders have wasted 30 [years] of inaction. And that is slightly worse,” she wrote on Twitter.
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