We’ve Declared A Climate Emergency… What Now?

Birmingham has finally declared a climate emergency, and a pretty impressive one at that. We’ve pledged to be net carbon neutral by 2030, a target more ambitious than those of most climate emergency cities, beating Manchester, for example, by 8 years!

So right now, quite a few people are asking me the same question: is it time to end the strike? And the answer is a firm, unambiguous no.

Declaring a climate emergency is crucial, but it is just the first step. We can’t reduce the pressure until Birmingham Council reveals how it will turn words into definitive action. We’ve had grand statements before, what we’ve never had is action. And it would be incredibly easy for those in power to stop prioritising the climate crisis, especially with a new Prime Minister on the horizon. The candidate debates have proven that the climate emergency is still at the bottom of their lists, they are much more interested in Brexit and who took which drugs 25 years ago.

But here in Birmingham, we now have the chance to make real, positive change. The climate emergency declaration isn’t a burden, as some people make it out to be, it is an incredible opportunity that can lead to a healthier, happier city!

So this is what the climate emergency means for the future of our city (and hopefully the West Midlands (having met with Mayor Andy Street, I know he’s listening))…

meeting key representatives from WMCA/ the Metro Mayor’s Office

It means cleaner air, more green spaces, less pollution.

It means cheaper, better, electrified public transport, that doesn’t get stuck behind miles of idling cars.

It means new cycle routes, less plastic, less waste in general.

It means more and better vegan and vegetarian food served in all schools and workplaces. Better recycling (that actually gets recycled rather than being burnt or sent to Malaysia), it means less litter on our streets and less valuable waste being set to landfill.

It could even mean educating schoolchildren on the importance of caring for the climate, of working with other countries to reduce global heating.

The more I think about it, the more I can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want to declare a climate emergency; and the councillors of Birmingham obviously agree! The climate emergency motion was put forward by the Conservatives, backed by Labour, Lib Dems and the Greens and unanimously passed by 83 councillors voting together.

The Zero-Carbon, ecological revolution has begun, and you, like me, should be incredibly excited to see where it takes us.

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An Open Letter to the Politicians of Britain

As one of the many striking for the climate I am writing to thank those of you who voted for the  UK to declare a climate emergency, making it the first country to do so. Like many others, when I heard the news, I was overjoyed. On 15 March I had stood outside Birmingham Council House and told Jeremy Corbyn’s film-maker that this was our demand, and now, just three months later the impossible had become possible! Those in power were finally taking climate change seriously! But soon my joy was replaced with the realisation that, without definitions, laws and ACTION the climate emergency doesn’t mean anything.

So I resolved to only stop striking when talk becomes adequate action.

It is to your credit that the UK could now be leading the way in achieving climate justice, but it is also YOU who have the responsibility to work TOGETHER to make this into law and show the world that having started the industrial revolution, we can now start the carbon-free revolution. We’ve made the first step, and yes, that’s positive, but it’s meaningless unless you agree a science-backed plan to make real systemic changes. I’m still constantly asked what lifestyle changes individuals can make to deal with the crisis by people who don’t realise that whilst individual action is important we’re past the point that anything less than systemic change will make enough of a difference.

We need to get to the point that consumers aren’t offered choices that destroy the world!!!

Protesting against fast fashion at Primark

Building a third Heathrow runway, and constructing a new coal mine in Cumbria makes a mockery of the Climate Emergency statement. Saying no to such plans is politically difficult, but we cannot choose to only work on the causes of climate change that will win votes. Scientists are clear that we cannot increase the amount that we fly, we cannot keep producing meat and dairy at the current rate of consumption, we cannot continue to produce masses of unnecessary single-use plastic and we most certainly cannot continue to frack, dig coal, or use up fossil fuels at the current rate.

We continue to think we can solve a crisis with business as usual. We cannot.

Meeting representatives of the West Midlands Combined Authority Mayor’s Office

Please, work with scientists to define the Climate Emergency and turn it into a law. Then we can put down our placards and head back to school.

Olivia Wainwright

Why #SchoolStrike4Climate and #MeatFreeMonday go hand in hand

As a climate striker, I am always looking for ways to reduce my carbon footprint and help our country meet climate change goals. What surprises me is that the answers are so easy: Travel less, use renewable energy, buy less things we don’t need, recycle more, restore forests – small things, but worth doing if they will ensure I have a future.

Our second strike, but our first march in Birmingham City Centre!

What I didn’t realise was that food can be your number one source of climate changing emissions. It’s therefore important that us Climate Strikers and all our supporters know about the most positive change that we, our schools, our work-places and our cities can do to benefit animals, forests, wildlife, the climate and our health.

The other day, I came across the global Meat-Free Monday movement. It has a simple aim – to make Mondays vegetarian. The idea is that each Monday, whether in a work-place, school, or at home, exclusively meatless options are served for breakfast, lunch and dinner. If this small change was replicated around the planet it would not only benefit our health, animals and the climate, it would also reminds us that the green option isn’t so hard! It would be a weekly reminder that what we eat and how we act changes the world, thereby helping to push us to bigger changes like cycling to school, or going meat and/or dairy free every day!

I don’t expect the world to go vegetarian overnight, but there’s no reason why we can’t go back to only eating meat and dairy on rare occasions, like the many generations before us.

My new year’s resolution was to be vegan where possible. I’ve found it to be a small relief on my conscience, knowing that I’m not supporting an industry which pollutes the world and increasingly relies on farming methods that don’t even consider animals’ basic needs. Being vegan’s not always easy, which is why we need more vegan options in school canteens and elsewhere.

Just like #Strike4Climate has put climate change back in the national conversation, so a national Meat Free Monday would help us to reconsider issues like the health impacts of meat and dairy.

And just like with the Climate, we need to listen to the scientists who tell us time and again that eating meat and dairy increases the risk of cancer and diseases such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s (processed meats are labelled as group 1 carcinogens (definitely causes cancer) by the World Health Organisation).

If you are a Climate Striker who isn’t swayed by concerns of health and animal rights, there are still reasons to ask your school to cut out meat on a Monday!

In order to satisfy consumer demand, cows and other animals are being mass-bred, and with more cows comes the need for more land, more feed and thus more emissions. The meat in our supermarkets releases emissions through deforestation for grazing land, deforestation to grow soya, methane emissions through cow farts and carbon dioxide emissions through transport. Assuming you aren’t the owner of a fossil fuel corporation, the best thing you can do to reduce your emissions is therefore to cut down on your meat and dairy intake. As demand for environmentally beneficial food increases, so the industry will change, and we can be proud of what we put on our plates.

As someone striking for the climate, I urge all Climate Strikers to make it a Meat Free Strike Day, join the Meat-Free Monday movement, and to ask your school canteen for more veggie options!

Me outside Birmingham City Council house – it’s time for Birmingham to declare a climate emergency.

VISIT: https://www.meatfreemondays.com/

Strike two! The movement begins to grow…

On Friday 15th March, I stood in front of around 2,000 Birmingham students, feeling privileged to be able to deliver a speech to a crowd full of inspiring children and teens. Despite being mildly terrified, and the microphone malfunctioning on and off throughout the whole thing, it was a truly educational experience.

The whole day, in fact, made me feel like we could and will make a difference. I marched through the streets surrounded by young climate activists, my voice mingling with hundreds of others, shouting and chanting passionately as we waved colourful banners to attract the attention of shoppers passing-by. We listened to spokespeople from environmental organisations, as well as Julien Pritchard and Lisa Trickett, two supportive Birmingham City councillors, and Katie Riley, one of the organisers, an incredible 16-year old who led the procession and the speeches. Victoria Square was packed with student strikers, all of whom were respectful yet ardent.

It gives hope to see so many people striking for the climate. Climate change is real, and it is happening, and we desperately need to do something about it. But following the pathetic turnout to the parliament climate debate, we as the younger generation can safely assume that the British government is not planning on doing anything. This is unacceptable, and exactly why it was so necessary for the strikes to keep getting bigger.

It shouldn’t be up to us to be out striking, and spending our evenings talking with teachers (as we did recently thanks to the supportive people of Birmingham National Education Union).

It is not us, but our parents and grandparents who have polluted the world, and it is now time for us to step in. The future of the world we have to live in is in our hands, and it’s been left up to us to ensure there is still enough water to drink and clean oxygen to breathe in 50 years.

I am so proud to be one of the hundreds of pupils striking in Birmingham.

We are the change we need to see. And we won’t stop until the government turns up to debates, listens and ACTS.

Why I Am Striking For Climate (and why you should too)

I am Olivia and I am 14 years old. So far, I have only attended one of the youth strikes for climate, but already it has become one of the most important parts of my life. I am learning to stand up and fight for the things that I believe need changing, and meeting likeminded people that give me hope for the future. These people share my belief that something needs to be done.

We are protesting the ridiculous lack of government action regarding the rapidly growing issue of climate change, a problem that is already impacting each and every one of us. With every new year, the side effects become more and more noticeable, increasing in severity as our politicians stand by and watch.

Climate scientists are clear – we only have 12 years to reverse the worst of the consequences of climate change. Yet the government response is not ambitious enough, and the laws being put in place are not potent enough.

So if those in charge of dealing with the climate crisis aren’t doing their job, others have to take their place, and that is why thousands of students all over the world are walking out of school. It’s the only way we can make the older generations listen. We are not lazy, we are not truants and we are NOT too young to start fighting for our future.

It is us who will be most affected as we are the ones who will have to grow up in an earth that is being choked by our parents’ pollution. It’s time that we take matters into our own hands. It is our world being destroyed.

The next strike is on Friday 15th March. Talk to your parents, talk to your peers, talk to your teachers and join us on the streets!