An international walkout demanding action against climate change reached Exeter on Friday 15 March. Students of all ages in Exeter gathered outside the Northcote House reception to protest climate change inaction on the part of governments across the world.
“It’s a global strike and it’s about mobilising our generation as a force for good rather than separation”
– Sophie, Exeter Climate Change Student Protest Organiser
Chants of “Don’t frack the future, there is no planet B” accompanied the sign-clad students and adults who organised speakers and events throughout the day. The protesters departed the university campus just after 11:00 and continued to chant on their way to meet other groups near Exeter Cathedral.
“When we did our first strike in February we had between 700-1000 people”, said Sophie, one of the student stewards and organisers. “We are coming out again. We have got a series of speeches planned for today we have chants and general noise making to get climate change in the public discussion. We also have a letter for to the city council, addressing what we want to get done and what we are concerned about. We also have local music and stuff to support the youth. It’s a global strike and it’s about mobilising our generation as a force for good rather than separation. We want to create this network that we can use to restore the planet as well as restoring our societies.”
Sophie further explained that the event was entirely student-organised and, while there were police present at the event, they were mostly self-regulating: “We didn’t want adult patrollers, so we have students just to make sure we don’t have anyone trying to spread hate or political beliefs and to make sure people stay as environmentally friendly as possible. It’s a way to make us lawful without having adults patrol everything.”
This protest, and others like it, were inspired by Greta Thunberg, a sixteen-year-old political activist from Sweden who organised the first climate change protest outside the government building in Stockholm. Thunberg was recently nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for her work organising such protests.