Theresa May takes swipe at ‘disruptive’ school pupils over climate change walkout

Posted On: 
15th February 2019

Theresa May has taken a swipe at young people who have gone on strike from school to protest about a lack of action on tackling climate change.

Students from the Youth Strike 4 Climate movement during a climate change protest on Parliament Square in Westminster
Credit: 
PA Images

Students across Britain walked out of classrooms en masse at 11 o’clock this morning as part of a global youth movement calling for a better response to the problem from politicians.

The UK Student Climate Network, which has organised the protest, is calling on ministers to declare “a climate emergency” and inform the public about the seriousness of the situation.

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They also want the “the ecological crisis” to be recognised as an educational priority and for the voting age to be lowered to 16 across the UK to give young people more of a say in decision-making.

But asked whether the Prime Minister supported the strike, a spokeswoman said: “Everybody wants young people to be engaged with the issues that affect them most so that we can build a brighter future for all of us.

“But it is important to emphasise that disruption increases teachers' workloads and wastes lesson time that teachers have carefully prepared for.

“That time is crucial for young people, precisely so that they can develop into the top scientists, engineers and advocates we need to help tackle this problem.”

In contrast, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn backed the walkout, tweeting: "Climate change is the greatest threat that we all face but it is the school kids of today whose futures are most on the line.

"They are right to feel let down by the generation before them and it’s inspiring to see them making their voice heard today. #SchoolStrike4Climate."

The protest comes weeks after students across Europe and beyond staged similar demonstrations.

The wider movement is attributed to 15-year-old Greta Thunberg, who last year stopped going to school on Fridays and instead protested outside the Swedish parliament.

Anna Taylor of the UK Student Climate Network, said: “We’re running out of time for meaningful change and that’s why we’re seeing young people around the world rising up to hold their governments to account on their dismal climate records.

“Unless we take positive action, the future’s looking bleak for those of us that have grown up in an era defined by climate change.”