Hundreds of Leeds children join global school strikes demanding action on climate change
Hundreds of children took to the streets of Leeds today as part of worldwide school strikes demanding politicians take urgent action on climate change.
Primary and secondary school children, along with university students and parents, gathered outside Leeds Town Hall from around 11am before marching through the city centre chanting and waving homemade placards.
Leeds had one of the largest walkouts taking place in more than 100 towns and cities across the UK, with 2,000 similar protests taking place in more than 120 countries.
The global day of action has been inspired by teenager Greta Thunberg, who protests every Friday outside Sweden's parliament to urge leaders to tackle climate change.
The first UK strike took place on February 15 and at today's demonstration in Leeds, one of the organisers Shannon Jackson said the last event had contributed to Leeds Council's newly-announced plan to declare a full climate emergency with the aim of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.
The 23-year-old masters student told the crowd she had been in talks with the council's Labour group earlier in the week prior to the climate emergency announcement.
"They said it is the youth strike movement and you guys coming out on the streets that has pushed this issue back onto the political agenda," she told the cheering crowd.
"We heard last time that Leeds was the second largest in the UK after London. This time it is even bigger. This is just a glimpse of what we can do. We had one strike and they have declared a climate emergency."
Also in attendance with his 11-year-old son Jakob was Leeds North West MP Alex Sobel, who said further strikes are going to be needed to push for more decisive action from the Government.
"We need to be here every month until we have won this battle," the MP said.
Among those in attendance was 11-year-old Rudee Curtis, with around 15 fellow pupils from Shire Oak Primary School in Headingley, as well as his mother Polly, 30, and one-year-old brother Che. He said him and his classmates have been asked to write an essay about why they have attended.
Polly said she was proud to have been able to take Rudee to the event. "It is his future and he cares so much about the world."
While recognising the importance of climate change in response to the first UK strike, Downing Street said the disruption increased teachers' workloads and wasted lesson time, and Education Secretary Damian Hinds said missing class was not the answer.