Environmental protestors took over the centre of Shrewsbury this morning as part of a global “Earth Strike” to highlight the growing Climate Emergency.
The strike was called by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg and drew students, parents and workers to Shrewsbury’s historic market square for speeches, music and a massive picnic on Pride Hill.
A cardboard cut-out of Greta, the now iconic teenager, proved immensely popular with the protestors, who posed for selfies and wrote the reasons for their protest on the blank placard she was holding.
Wearing her trademark yellow raincoat, the same outfit she wore when she started her “School Strike for Climate” outside the Swedish parliament in August 2018, the cardboard Greta drew big crowds.
“We’re all here today because of the School Strike movement that Greta started a year ago,” explained 17-year-old student Callum Fone, a spokesperson for Shrewsbury’s Extinction Rebellion Youth group. “She is the original climate rebel.”
“Greta was the first teenager to realise that you can make your voice heard about the climate crisis no matter how small you are. My generation knows that we are facing catastrophe if our leaders don’t act on the warnings of the United Nations and its scientists and we are demanding change.”
“People tell us that we should be in school or that we should wait until we are old enough to vote or become politicians before we try and change things. But the fact is, there isn’t enough time. The decisions being made today will decide what kind of world we’re going to live in when we’re older.”
The international protest, organised by a coalition of environmental groups including Earth Strike, Fridays 4 Future and the UK Student Climate Network, is the first ever global general strike. It has received the support of the TUC, with union bosses asking workers to take 30 minutes out of their day to join the protestors in solidarity.
The Shrewsbury event began in the town square at 11am before moving to Pride Hill at midday where protestors held a picnic on the town’s main shopping street.
Musicians entertained picnickers and Extinction Rebellion Shrewsbury members handed out cupcakes and cookies with the group’s hourglass logo. After lunch the protestors marched through town and visited both college campuses.
Among the protesters was Jamie Russell, a Shrewsbury resident and author, who accompanied his children aged 12 and 8.
“I think these kids understand the simplicity of the climate crisis in a way adults don’t… or won’t,” Russell said. “The basic science tells us that the more fossil fuels we burn, the hotter the planet becomes. My daughters ask me ‘Why aren’t we switching to renewable energy? Why aren’t we making buses electric? Why aren’t we doing anything to stop this? The simple reason is governments are in the pockets of fossil fuel companies. The UK spends £10.5 billion a year subsiding fossil fuels. We are literally paying these corporations to poison our kids. It’s madness.”
Fone says he welcomes adults’ involvement in the protests. “Our aim is to get adults out of work and onto the streets to show their support. We want people of all ages to stop and think about the environmental destruction that’s going on every day. It’s sad that the only way to get people to pay attention to the climate emergency is by making a lot of noise.”
“For me, I’m 17 years old. What does this mean? It means I feel powerless. Because of my age I cannot vote and I cannot join trade unions. So for me the only way to get my voice heard is to be a part of events like this. To be a part of the Extinction Rebellion movement has given me hope and a chance to fight for the life ahead of me.”
Protestors gather on Pride Hill in Shrewsbury as part of a global “Earth Strike” to highlight the growing Climate…Posted by Shropshire Live on Friday, 20 September 2019