Credit: Eva Merritt

You are never too small to make a difference

By Hailie Pentleton

The Glasgow Guardian chats to local secondary school climate activists about COP26 and their mission to educate people on the climate crisis through social media.

On Friday 5 November, Glasgow’s streets were taken by a storm in the form of 25,000* activists of all ages calling on world leaders to take the necessary steps to stop the climate crisis in its tracks. Participating in a Fridays for Future march, the city saw people from all backgrounds come together on George Square to demand climate justice as COP26 took place just streets away. 

Of course, at the heart of the Fridays for Future movement are children and young people. Started by environmental activist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Greta Thunberg, the movement has seen millions of young people across the globe participate in school strikes to protest the lack of urgent action taken by world leaders and governments against the climate crisis. With a recent Ipsos Mori poll showing that pessimism towards the climate crisis is more prevalent amongst young people, now more than ever it is crucial that we listen to those young activists trying to change the course of the future of our planet. The Glasgow Guardian caught up with some of Glasgow’s secondary school students Clare, Freya, and Nora* to reflect on COP26, the climate crisis, and their mission to make education on the climate crisis more accessible through their social media channels. 

The Glasgow Guardian: So when did you start getting interested in the climate crisis, was there something in particular that made you want to do more about it?

Nora: I already knew a bit about it, but then I started to research on my own and realised just how huge a problem it was. 

Freya: Yeah, in primary seven we did a project on the climate which made me want to go off and educate myself on it more. I think that’s when I started to care.

GG: Do you feel you learn enough about the climate crisis in school or have you had to do a lot of independent research? 

Clare: Most of the research we do we do ourselves.

Freya: I do think they’re getting a bit better at educating us on the crisis though. 

GG: Yeah, I know when I was at school I didn’t learn much about the climate crisis at all, which is always strange to look back on considering the crisis didn’t just appear over the last year or so! Is that what made you decide to set up your instagram account, to educate people?

Clare: Yeah. We’d always wanted to do something about the environment, in general, we’re all quite passionate about it, but we never felt like we were doing enough. We’d have lots of different ideas but never know how to put them into action. Then one day I came up with the idea to start our account – which was exciting because it was something we could actually do to help people.

GG: How did you find the Fridays for Future’s march during COP26? 

Nora: It was a massive deal for us. Our account is all about educating people on the little changes they can make personally, but [the event] reminded us just how important it is to remember that it’s the big companies, the world leaders, and the governments that are responsible for the big changes. For a long time we’d wanted to be a part of a Fridays for Futures march, to be part of putting pressure on them to do their part. 

GG: Exactly. I was there too, I still can’t believe how many people showed up. Did you manage to see Greta at all? 

Nora: No, we didn’t manage to make it through all of the speeches.

GG: That’s fair enough, it was very busy. 

Freya: Yeah, we lost a kid in that crowd!

GG:  Definitely not somewhere you’d want to get lost in. Returning to your earlier point, about the importance of putting pressure on our world leaders and governments to make the appropriate changes, how are you all feeling looking back at COP26. Do you think it’ll have a positive outcome, or do you think it’s just a bunch of “blah blah blah”.

Clare: A lot of it felt like people just trying to please us, but I don’t think we should completely write it off – this is the only way they can start to make these changes 

Nora: This feels like a last chance to save the world, as people might say. It is important, and it’s better than nothing, but a lot of their promises do feel like their trying to please us and perform like they are doing the right thing. But we don’t know if they’re going to follow through, and they have to follow through. 

GG: What is one thing you would like people to understand about the crisis, or how would you explain it simply to other people? 

Freya: Individuals can do as much as they can, and it will make a difference, but ultimately you are not the one responsible for the climate crisis. It’s  up to world leaders and large companies to fix their mess and not individuals. 

Clare: Yeah, I think that it’s important that individual people do try but you’ve got to remember that if you don’t do every tiny thing that you could do, doing a little bit is better than doing nothing at all 

Nora: I also think it’s important to remember that when we talk about the climate we often talk about the world as a whole, but there are people who are being affected by the crisis right now. We talk about climate justice but we also have to talk about social justice –  “developed” countries like ours are contributing to this crisis the most, and people in developing countries are being affected right now. This is why we need to put pressure on world leaders – they hear that these things are happening but it’s not affecting them, so they push it away, but they need to be reminded that real people are being affected by it. 

You can follow Clare, Freya, and Nora over on instagram @eco_made_easy_

Names have been changed for anonymity.


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