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.

WATCH: Michael Gove, Claire Perry and Paul Polman support school climate strikes

School-age strikers are out in force again today (15 March)

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. 

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.

‘No choice’ 

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.”

Government action

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.

James Evison

Comments (3)

  1. Peter Scott says:

    I wonder what your credentials, Richard Phillips, are for your dismissive comments. If you are suggesting the problem is overstated, and that it is all a con so that renewable energy businesses can make a lot of money, I would like to see your evidence for those statements. The idea that the whole Climate situation depends on a single number that is a guess strikes me as absurd. The evidence is wide ranging that we face an unprecedented situation ahead, involving not only Climate Change, but also Loss of Biodiversity, Soil Infertility, Desertification, Air quality, Plastic. Our excessive overuse of fossil fuels is at the root of the problem and a planned lessening of their use is necessary, to the point where as soon as possible we do not use them at all. If we do not do that, and quickly, we face the doom and disaster you mention. If instead we make the transition we will all be better off for it. We may not own as much ‘stuff’ but our lives will have the potential to be much richer. The present economic system is ‘The Age Of Stupid’.

    Peter Scott

  2. Richard Phillips says:

    Since you ask, Mr Scott:

    I am a retired research scientist, having spent the last 35 years of my professional career at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell in Oxfordshire. Since retirement I have continued to take a keen interest in all energy matters, and have a wide circle of very experienced contacts in all aspects of the industry. I have thus acquired a wide knowledge of the spectrum of energy matters from nuclear generation to renewables. I became, by examination, an Associate of the Royal Institute of Chemistry in 1954, and was elected a Fellow in 1971.

    Richard Phillips

  3. Richard Phillips says:

    Dear Mr Scott

    Let me now address some of the points you make.

    On the point of the "single number". This pivotal number is the Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity, expressed in Kelvin, ie, a temperature. It is the temperature rise to be expected from a doubling of the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide. It is expressed as the ratio of the two logarithms of the respective concentrations, to the base 2.

    The IPCC selected the number 3 as its "favoured" value, back in 1980. It seems not to have had any rigorously derived basis; but I am open to correction. It is the value used in all 150 or so climate models derived under governmental auspices. And without exception, they all over-estimate the temperature rises.

    Examination of the most reliable data from satellite, weather balloons, and ocean data from Argo buoys, indicate a value for this number of 1-1.5. These have been detailed statistical analyses of data over different times and lengths of time. An expected rise of less than half that promoted is significant, especially as it applies to a doubling of the CO2 concentration; the impact of the CO2 increases thus become less severe as concentrations rise.

    I am not sufficiently knowledgeable on the bio- matters you mention, to pass any meaningful comment.

    Certainly in order to preserve and improve not only our standards of living but internationally, it is essential that we have available sufficient electrical power. This will have to come form nuclear or fossil sources if it is to be reliable and in sufficient amount, on demand. There is no renewable source which can supply industrial quantities of power, ON DEMAND. Renewables being variable, from full down, to zero, backup has to be available. This scenario was addressed by the French with 83% nuclear and other generators.

    You will note that since the subsidy was withdrawn from land-based wind turbine generation, not one turbine has been constructed, in spite of all planning permissions being in place. Not money, Huh? This generation is supposed to be so cheap. No problem with building heavily subsidised off-shore farms – "loads ‘o money", and we have to buy ALL the power generated, needed or not.

    I agree that our present policies are heading for the rocks, but we have an administration which devoid of scientific awareness.

    May we have your provenance please?

    Richard Phillips

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