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Climate change protests reach important stage
Students, predominantly school students, along with trade unionists and environmental activists, protested for a fifth successive month on 21 June against the government's failure to seriously tackle climate change.
Socialist Party members helped mobilise and assisted these student walkouts and demonstrations (reports below). However, with lower turnouts at the protests, it is becoming critical to discuss the correct strategy and tactics to achieve meaningful measures to halt catastrophic climate change.
Although there was a smaller turnout at this month's strike, the mood was no less determined. The school students' campaign meeting, which followed the strike, looked at ways of developing links between schools and action within schools and beyond.
Students at Millthorpe school have gained the support of the school in holding a climate meeting. This was attended by 60 students. In other schools the students are being discouraged and threatened with sanctions for attending the strike. Students from those schools still attended the strike, but in smaller numbers.
The meeting discussed linking with other groups, especially trade unions, Extinction Rebellion and individual teachers. There was a decision to invite sympathetic teachers to the next campaign meeting and try to explore ways of spreading ideas around climate change more effectively into schools, through school student groups, in assemblies, and by inviting speakers into the schools. York Trade Union Council, which sponsored the meeting, will discuss ways of supporting this at their next meeting.
Students also discussed taking the strike to the Nestlé factory as it is one of York's biggest employers and Nestlé is a major producer of unnecessary packaging.
The students have already developed their own website and Instagram account and want to use these and other forms of social media to improve communication between schools. They will also continue to hold meetings. York TUC will continue to support them and delegates will be asked to approach their branches for funding.
Nigel Smith , secretary, York TUC, and Socialist Party
A speaker at the youth climate change protest in Newcastle, 21.6.19, photo Elaine Brunskill
"The oceans are rising - so are we!" This and other chants rang out as students marched from Newcastle's Civic Centre down to Grey's Monument in the city centre.
Although there were less attendees than the May protest, the anger and enthusiasm was unmistakeable.
The organisers of the protest brought along a megaphone, which they used to both lead chants, and implement an open-mic policy. Of the young people who spoke there was a greater number of them putting forward socialistic views - rather than simply affirming personal actions - which was welcome.
One young person told us that some students from her school still supported the movement but had been scared off by the threat of sanctions by the school.
A member of the local NEU teacher's union also spoke, and confirmed the policy of supporting students that go on climate strike (which was proposed by Socialist Party members within that union).
A student who got in touch with us after last month's protest has become more active in the movement and asked for more information about the Socialist Party.
Sam Morden, South Tyne & Wearside Socialist Party
Around 50 people gathered in Nottingham Market Square for the climate strike on 21 June. There were school students aged eleven to 15 from at least four schools as well as some older campaigners and trade unionists.
Organisers were disappointed that older students, whose terms have ended, were not there, saying students who study elsewhere and lived in Nottingham could have come. There are, however, limitations to mobilising events solely via social media.
Once again, students clearly saw the need for going beyond the limited demands of Youth Strike for Climate eg declaring 'climate emergencies'. The Canadian parliament had just declared a 'climate emergency' but the next day the government agreed another oil pipeline project across indigenous lands!
Most people agreed that capitalist governments and big business would not solve the climate crisis. Our demands for socialist change to end climate change were well received when explained.
There was a short march. Before this set off, the organiser, who is in the Labour Party, talked about the Tory leadership contest and said that he wanted "anyone but Boris", instead of calling to boot out the Tory government whoever leads it.
When the march returned to Market Square, the organiser talked about the general strike demand for 27 September. He said that it would be the "first general strike of our generation and we're going to walk away from our schools and workplaces".
However desirable a general strike would be, unless Youth Strike for Climate, Earth Strike and Extinction Rebellion link up with workers and the trade union movement to discuss how to make it a reality, then it will not happen.
As the protest ended, news broke that governments were lobbying the United Nation's current president, from Saudi Arabia, not to arrange a full session to discuss the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report.
This shows the unwillingness of the capitalist profit system to halt catastrophic climate change. Only the socialist transformation of society would enable democratic planning of the economy and genuine international cooperation to secure sustainable production and hence the planet's future.
Clare Wilkins, Nottingham Socialist Party
Around 1,000 school students and protesters joined the demonstration in central London outside Parliament. The numbers had decreased from previous protests showing the need for organisation and clear leadership.
The climate strikes this year have shown anger at the capitalist system that can only offer young people inequality, exploitation and climate catastrophe.
Members of the Socialist Party and Socialist Students have been organising school student unions - helping students set up bodies that can defend students against punishments, link up with workers and trade unions to build the next stage of the struggle.
Of all the Left organisations we were alone in arguing that the 'system change' we need is socialism.
We called for the nationalisation of the banks and big business so we can draw up and implement a socialist plan of production.
While others on the left were just calling to "keep the coal in the ground" we put forward what is necessary to end climate change and to run society based on what people need not what makes profit for a few at the top.
Mark Best, East London Socialist Party
The latest youth climate strike in Leeds featured a few additions to the usual environmental placards. The organisers made the event a joint climate protest and Pride event, as it fell within Pride month. Throughout the crowd were a colourful display of various flags and signs.
The display showed the diversity and determination of Leeds youth, and their continued willingness to push against the council's attempt at further expansion of Leeds/Bradford airport - which will significantly increase CO2 emissions.
Around 250 people made an appearance throughout the day with most attending the march. The Socialist Party's leaflets were well received by marchers and onlookers. Afterwards there were a number of speakers, myself included, many of which warned of the danger of societies' continued reliance on capitalism.
Hundreds of students walked out of their schools and colleges in Brighton for the fifth time this year to protest the government's inaction over the climate crisis.
Students were eager to get organised and continue building the movement, and crowded around our stall to sign up for Socialist Students.
The vast majority were angry at the Tory government, who have proven that they hold no solutions, and are increasingly looking toward a socialist alternative. We explained that we should organise to kick them out and fight for a Corbyn government with the socialist policies needed to tackle climate change.
Connor Rosoman, Brighton Socialist Students
In The Socialist 31 May 2019:
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