12,000 attend Global Strike for Climate in Glasgow

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Credit: Joe Elgar

Joanne Krus and Inanna Tribukait
Deputy News Editor and Deputy Investigations Editor

Protesters demand more political action on the climate crisis.

On Friday 20 September, thousands protested in Glasgow as part of a global climate strike.

The strike was inspired by Greta Thunberg, a Swedish schoolgirl who began the first Fridays for Future strikes in 2018. It is being hailed by many as the biggest ever global movement for the environment with an estimated 4 million marchers worldwide.

Megan Rose, a student at the University of Glasgow and one of the organisers of the strike, estimated that 12,000 people participated in the Global March in Glasgow. The march brought together people of all ages, including a wide range of organisations and trade unions like Friends of the Earth Scotland, Stand Up to Racism, Scottish CND, Extinction Rebellion, Scottish Power, Unison and others.

The Glasgow protest started at 11am in Kelvingrove Park and went on until the late afternoon. The march walked via Sauchiehall Street through the city centre to George Square, causing some disruptions in the traffic.

Like previous climate strikes, many of the protestors were enthusiastic school children who remain as determined as ever to make themselves heard.

Lila, a secondary school student at the march, said that she joined the strike to wake up the government to the clear fact that humanity is going to die but politicians in power can control it.

“Obviously the time is now and I think some time the government will have to act because they’ll see there is no other way to survive,” Lila said.

Many parents marched with the younger children and some school children attended with their teachers. Morven, a mother who attended the protest with her toddler, said that it was important for her to bring her child, even though he was too young to understand what was happening, since it is important for their future.

“‘It’s important to everyone, it’s not just important to me just because I have a child,” Morven said. “You can relate to this generation who are going to be left with this state of things.”

Glasgow City Council established a climate emergency working group in February and formally declared a climate emergency in May, aiming for the target of Carbon Neutrality by 2030 rather than the previous goal of 2037. In a committee document, the Climate Emergency Working Group acknowledge the issue of Climate Justice as well, noting that the climate emergency would act “as an additional stress on vulnerable communities in the city, particularly around flood risk and increased summer heat.”

Stuart Graham works for the trade union Unison and held a speech on George Square during the march. Unison has been supporting the youth strikes since earlier this year, and provided financial support, handed out purple whistles and provided speakers during the event.

“The Glasgow City Council made commitments when they declared the climate emergency and that’s all well and good, but people need to understand that we will now have to hold them to account,” Graham said.

Graham said that climate change will be a paradigm shift that demands significant changes in the infrastructure of the city, and that all the changes should be operated by people in working class communities.

“Climate change affects everyone,” Graham said.

Vidya Nanthakumar, a student and member of Extinction Rebellion at the University of Glasgow, said that intersectional environmentalism is not only white middle-class movement but rather one that can include marginalized people and those who do not necessarily have the privilege of being concerned with the environment.

“I think climate justice comes back to intersectionality and how we need to start seeing the whole world as one thing,” Nanthakumar said.

Belle Valiulis, also from Extinction Rebellion, said that the government is going to make the biggest change because they can influence consumers.

“It is more expensive sometimes to make the more sustainable choice,” Valiulis said. “The government has a higher power, even if you as a consumer are not ready to make commitments to make sustainable things more accessible.”