People take part in a “youth strike for climate change” demonstration in London, Britain February 15, 2019. REUTERS/Simon Dawson
LONDON (Reuters) – Thousands of British children marched out of lessons on Friday to demand action on climate change, earning a mild rebuke from the prime minister’s office for disrupting classes, but praise from the energy minister and activists.
Youngsters marched on Parliament Square in London and gathered in other cities carrying banners marked with “Climate change is worse than homework”, “Act now for our future” and other slogans.
“My teacher told me kids shouldn’t be going out, but we went because it’s important,” 11-year-old Rio told Reuters.
A spokeswoman for British Prime Minister Theresa May said that while the government welcomed the students’ engagement, the disruption to schools and lessons would be difficult for teachers.
Her energy minister Claire Perry however said she was “incredibly proud” of the young people while opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn expressed his support for the “school kids of today whose futures are most on the line”.
Earlier this week, 224 academics from Oxford, Cambridge and other universities declared their support for the students in an open letter published in The Guardian.
“(Those taking part in the strike) have every right to be angry about the future that we shall bequeath to them, if proportionate and urgent action is not taken,” they wrote.
The British protests were part of a global ‘School Strike 4 Climate’ movement, which began in August 2018 when 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg began protesting outside her parliament on school days.
Reporting by Madeleine Gandhi; Editing by Andrew Heavens