The beginning of great change

Dear Youth 4 Climate Strikers

You have our full support. There’s no question that politicians and businesses are asleep at the wheel when it comes to climate change. Here you are, waking them up, encouraging them to rethink their policies and steer the juggernaut away from the edge. It’s not going to be easy. Before they avert disaster, they need to learn a new way of travelling. 

You might get some flack for taking time off school or college or university. But we know that you value your education, that you want a better future for yourselves. That involves taking care of our planet, our home. You know that in order to be heard, you need the skills that education can give you. But there are also other skills which the education system has been ignoring. The power to influence change and create a cleaner, greener future.

In Southampton, the Council led us to believe they would introduce a Clean Air Zone, but lost their bottle at the last moment with a spectacular U-turn. Instead of taking strong leadership on clean air they decided to do nothing. Children are especially vulnerable to air pollution and yet they ignored this fact because you have not stood up to them before. The children and young people of this city make up 25% of its population – if you come together and make your voice heard, those in power will be forced to listen.

Southampton City Council is now talking about a Green City Charter. Good plan. But can they view the world through a child’s eyes instead of through those of the men in suits? Have they asked young people about the place they would like to grow up in and help shape? Have they asked you what you feel about your home, your street, your neighbourhood, your city? They need to start asking for your bright new ideas so that a sustainable, resilient future for Southampton can become a reality, not just a marketing exercise.

During February’s climate strike, we were pleased that the Leader of the Council declared a Climate Emergency. Words are a good starting point. Now they need to be followed up by urgent action. We look forward to a Council motion which views Climate Change as a crisis and a review of Council policy in response. We need to make sure that they don’t blind us with greenwash, whilst carrying on with business as usual.

We are all custodians of this planet we call home and this place we live. Together we can make the changes needed both globally and locally and we offer to support you in this however we can. We look forward to the next Climate Strike on 15 March.

Tell us where we can help.

Rebecca, Clare and Mandi

The Southampton Collective CIC

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