WATCH: Michael Gove, Claire Perry and Paul Polman support school climate strikes
Conservative MPs, Government Ministers and green business leaders have today (15 March) come out in support of students that are missing school and going on strike for a second time in the fight against climate change.
Hundreds of thousands of students have deserted their classrooms to take part in today's strikes, amid growing anger at the failure of global politicians and business leaders to tackle the escalating climate crisis.
With the strikes expected to take place in at least 60 towns and cities across the UK, a new video message has been posted on social media by the Conservative Environment Network (CEN), praising the strikers and their ambitions.
The two-minute video features a number of Tory MPs, also including former Environment Minister Richard Benyon, Antoinette Sandbach and Zac Goldsmith.
In Gove's part of the video, the Defra leader says: “Collective action of the kind you are championing can make a difference, and a profound one... together we can beat climate change.” Benyon, meanwhile, references the “the extraordinary passion of the school strikers” who are “young people whose lives will be much more affected by climate change than the generations leaving them this legacy”.
The strikes have also today been praised by Unilever's former chief executive Paul Polman – winner of edie's Lifetime Achievement Award at the recent Sustainability Leaders Awards 2019.
Today students all over the world are taking part in #YouthStrike4Climate demanding climate action for their futures. You all have my full support. Thank you for the bravery & passion you show. #FridaysForFuture #GlobalStrike4Climate pic.twitter.com/2DAqk9HQI3— Paul Polman (@PaulPolman) March 15, 2019
Earlier in the week, the CEN revealed the results of a poll which found that the majority of adults support the school climate strikes (53%), with less than a sixth (15%) opposed to the action which is taking place internationally.
The UK Student Climate Network, which organises the strikes, previously took action in February with 15,000 students partaking. The Network is inspired by the activism of Greta Thunberg, an environmental campaigner working for policy change in Sweden.
It was announced yesterday that Thunberg had been nominated by Norwegian politicians for the Nobel Peace Prize for her climate activism.
#ClimateStrikeHK: More photos of Hong Kong's largest ever environmental protest in history!! Over a 1,000 kids and parents on the streets today! 🙌🗣️ Well done!!!#FridaysForFuture #ClimateAction#YouthForClimate#ClimateEmergency #SchoolsStrike4Climate #SchoolStrike4Climate pic.twitter.com/GkGIfETKA7— Alex Hofford (@alexhofford) March 15, 2019
On Thursday, the Network published an open letter calling on the UK Government to meet with representatives from the group to discuss their concerns.
The letter stated: “We are forced once again to take the security of our futures into our own hands. As young people, we face the greatest threat from this issue. We shouldn’t have to be the ones leading action to prevent ecological breakdown and yet we have been left with no choice.
“We are already seeing the destructive and sometimes irreparable effects of a changing climate and we know that personal lifestyle changes are no longer enough. Systemic change is needed to radically cut harmful output from all sectors of the economy. The decisions made in Parliament today determine the security of our futures on the planet as we know it. We will no longer sit and watch the total disregard that has been shown for the safety of our generation.”
The strikes follow a handful of green policy measures that were announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond in his Spring Statement this week, including the banning of gas boilers in new build homes from 2025 and the carbon offsetting of plane journeys.
The Statement also included a major global review into the economic value of biodiversity, including the financial risks of its decline and rewards of its stewardship. That review will examine the economic benefits of biodiversity on a global, national and local level, and to determine the most cost-effective and environmentally sustainable interventions which could be taken to protect nature.