TENS of thousands of people flooded on to the streets across the UK on Friday, and across the world, to raise awareness of climate change.
Among those taking part in the protest in London was the Revd Helen Burnett, the Vicar of St Peter and St Paul’s, Chaldon, who said she was there “standing in solidarity” with schoolchildren striking.
It was inspired by the actions of the Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg (News, 20 September).
Ms Burnett, a member of Christian Climate Action, said: “The protest is very important because the children are coming on to the streets, and now the adults are standing in solidarity.
“The fact that this is a global protest is fantastic. We are not directly affected by climate change too much right now, but there are contemporaries of these schoolchildren who are being impacted. It is great to show solidarity across the Anglican Communion.”
She said that it was really important that there were many events happening outside the capital, too: “Smaller events have more visibility.”
Maneesha James, an Australian at the London protest, told the Church Times: “I’m here because I care. I’m concerned about it. I want to support the kids. Like Greta said, we’ve created the problem, and I want to be part of the solution.”
Oscar Roberts, aged ten, was given permission from his school to attend. He said: “I’m here because I hate the air quality in London. I want them to reduce carbon emissions so that it can slowly get better.”
Rosa Denby, a 14-year-old from Islington, had skipped school to come with her mum and a friend. She said: “I’m here because I think it’s a really important issue that impacts everyone.”
She urged world leaders to “grow up and face their responsibilities”.
PAProtesters at the Global Climate Strike in London on Friday
Edward Mason, Head of Responsible Investment for the Church Commissioners, was one of the adults at the London protest. He said that the issue of climate change was hugely important personally to him: “Political action is a really important part of its being addressed.
“It is important to me as a father, and also what I do at work. My daughter has been on two climate strikes so far. . . It is all part of the pressure that is being put on politicians.”
He said that he had already seen signs of the pressure in the investment world. The protest had “tremendous energy” and was “really uplifting”.
Ms Burnett described Friday as a “kingdom-building” opportunity to work against a “corrosive and anti-Christian system”.
She argued: “It is really important that local churches include the protesters in their prayers.”
Abdulla Almamun, of Islamic Relief, told the Church Times: “Our faith tells us that we need to be part of this. It affects the people that we support. We work in 40 different countries; one of the things that affects them is climate change. We’re seeing drastic change.”
Yasmin Hashmi said: “I’ve come because it’s an emergency, and we need action now. There is no time to lose. I’m concerned about the future and the world that we are leaving to our children. Politicians will not act unless compelled to do so by the people.”