Preston students stage climate change protest in city centre

Students were today gathering in Preston as part of a UK-wide protest against climate change.

By David Nowell
Friday, 15th February 2019, 11:12 am
Updated Friday, 15th February 2019, 3:17 pm
Young protesters campaigning on climate change outside Lancashire County Council's offices in Preston
Young protesters campaigning on climate change outside Lancashire County Council's offices in Preston

Youngsters from various Preston schools were seen chanting and protesting near the railway station and County Hall at lunchtime.

One eyewitness said there were around 30 youngsters wearing uniforms from several schools.

She said: "More and more are arriving and getting louder.

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Amos Rand at the protest in Preston

"They are saying they are fighting for the future. It's a big issue."

Demonstrations and "strikes" were being reported all over the country.

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The protesters in Preston were understood to be making their way to the flag market for speeches and a sitting protest.

The protest was policed with a light touch

in Brighton, students met at a clock tower with banners calling for action over climate change.

Some students held banners saying they were refusing to take exams, while others read: "Why should I clean my room when the world is in such a mess". They then chanted for climate action immediately.

Roseanne Steffen, 21, a student at the University of Sussex, said: "We're protesting against the governmental inaction over climate change. We're also part of an international movement for the demanding of much more concentrated action.

"We think our leaders have been acting irresponsibly towards this issue and it should have been made a number one priority years ago.

"We've had the climate science for 20 plus years and we've been in denial about it, so we need to react urgently.

"The UK Government and particularly Britain in its history has been a key emitter of carbon. Ever since the industrial revolution, we've been polluting the atmosphere.

"We've been really lucky as a university to have the support because they have been doing the research on climate change and it's looking bleak. They understand the imperative of action."

Hundreds of students, many in school uniform, have also gathered in Parliament Square in London, chanting 'save our planet' and waving homemade banners.

The movement started in August when schoolgirl Greta Thunberg held a solo protest outside the Swedish parliament.

Now, up to 70,000 schoolchildren each week hold protests in 270 towns and cities worldwide.

Individual protests have previously been held in the UK, but today's action is the first walkout coordinated by the UK Student Climate Network.

Downing Street said that while it was important for young people to engage with issues like climate change, the disruption to planned lesson time was damaging for pupils.

"Everybody wants young people to be engaged in the issues that affect them most so that we can build a brighter future for all of us," a No 10 spokeswoman said.

"But it is important to emphasise that disruption increases teachers' workloads and wastes lesson time that teachers have carefully prepared for.

"That time is crucial for young people, precisely so that they can develop into the top scientists, engineers and advocates we need to help tackle this problem."

Edwina Grant, executive director Education and Children's Services at Lancashire County Council, said: "Lancashire takes the voice of our young people very seriously and we maintain a Youth Council and many other youth participation networks.

"If young people express their views we want to listen. However we do take attendance at school very seriously and hope that the young people taking this action balance their wish to make a protest alongside their responsibility to attend school and to get the best from their education in our schools and colleges."