'We don't get a vote, this is the the only way we can make a change': Leeds students join climate strike protest

Hundreds of school students and young people joined the Youth Strike 4 Climate protest in Leeds today.

Friday, 29th November 2019, 5:00 pm
Updated Friday, 29th November 2019, 6:08 pm

It began at 11am outside Leeds Town Hall on The Headrow where activists gathered to call on the government to take action on climate change.

Protesters then marched around the city centre, bringing traffic to a halt.

GCSE students Jasmine Bows and Kayden Jones, both from Leeds, gave up time during their busy exam year to join the protest.

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Climate change protesters outside Leeds Town Hall.

Jasmine, 16, said: "It's a dire situation and I think it's just really important to open people's eyes and spread the urgency that the whole world is in, not just the UK.

"I think it's important that teachers, as well as peers, recognise that students are having to risk their education to come here, just to get people's attention towards the matter."

Kayden, also 16, added: "I think if we keep skipping school the government will eventually realise that we care about this long-term issue more than our short-term grades.

"Coming here shows how many people care about climate change and hopefully will make the government want to take action towards it."

Jasmine Selwood, 20, an English & History student at the University of Leeds belies that the upcoming election should focus on climate change.

Jasmine said: "I'm here today because we are in the middle of a general election and I feel it is a climate election.

"The issue of climate change is becoming so prevalent in our society and as white people have to use our voices of power because ultimately it is going to be indigenous people who are affected.

"Already the amazon is burning down, native Australians are facing bush fires, it is not going to be us that ultimately reap the consequences of climate change, we have to use our voices for other people.

"I think it's really commendable that young people have taken the time off school to come here.

"By children doing it you are hitting people where it hurts and are really reinforcing the idea that this strike is for people of the future.

"I want to be able to have kids, I want to see my grandchildren grow up in a world that's not been completely ruined by climate change."

Sixth form students Nell Fabian and Phoebe Cookson stewarded this month's protest after being inspired by the earlier protests in the city.

They believe it is the only way they can engage on this issue, as they are not old enough to vote in the upcoming election.

Phoebe, 16, from Bingley, said: "Brexit is the only thing we are hearing about in politics but that is a short-term change.

"The climate crisis is going to impact generations and generations of people and we are seeing those implications happening right now.

"It's not something that's about to happen - it is happening.

"It needs to be talked about and it needs to have action taken from that.

"I want a future so I want to be able to say that I have done something towards that and I am trying to help.

The Skipton Girls High School student added: "We are educated and we know whats going on, we can see it.

"We're going to have to face the consequences of climate change and that's why being here is so important.

"We've got these opportunities so we want to utilise them and show the people with power that we deserve to be listened to."

Nell, 17, from Headingley said: "We're all young and most of us don't have a vote so we have no other way of engaging in our democracy except to protest.

"This is literally the only way we can make an active change for our country and the world about climate change.

"We care so much and spend so much of our time in activism and trying to make political change so we are really, really frustrated about the general election.

"We dedicate most of our time to it and the fact that we're not even given the right to have a say in the normal process is a bit rubbish."

The Notre Dame Sixth Form student added: "It sounds extreme but the climate crisis is the biggest threat that our civilisation faces.

"It can completely destabilise politics in already unstable regions and it's going to create famine, disease, natural disasters.

"I'm not sure we're going to survive it to be honest."