They epitomise what it means to be responsible citizensRoss Greer
Councils should back young people who choose to strike from school to highlight the urgent need for climate action, according to Scottish Greens MSP Ross Greer.
An estimated 15,000 people took part in a wave of climate strikes across the UK in February, inspired by 16-year-old Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg. Now, Ross Greer, Green MSP for the West of Scotland, has written to education bosses across councils urging them to support – and not to punish – young people, ahead of the planned global strike on 15 March 2019.
Citing both Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence and its objective of young people becoming ‘responsible citizens’, and the First Minister’s call for their voices to be heard, Ross has urged the council to understand the struggle faced by young people who will grow up in a world gripped by total climate breakdown unless transformative action is taken immediately.
Ross said: “The climate crisis - and how we all respond to it - will now unavoidably define the lives of young people at school in Scotland today. Many are, completely rationally, fearful for their futures and those of young people around the world. It’s clear why they feel compelled to speak out and urge stronger action from governments and corporations who have not just failed to tackle this crisis but who have caused it.
“Local councils should support young people who chose to strike for the climate - after all, they epitomise what it means to be responsible citizens. They should certainly ensure that there is no threat of any form of punishment.”
The letter from Green MSPs to councils was as follows:
“You will be aware that a number of students across the country took part in a day of school strikes on Friday 15 February to highlight the urgent action required by governments if we are to tackle the climate crisis. Following the strikes, concern was raised in regards to the response of some schools and education authorities, whilst others were commended for their measured approach. With a further global day of action planned by young people in Scotland and across the world on March 15th, I’m writing to encourage you to support those who choose to take part.
The scientific evidence of a climate crisis is clear. The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states that we will face catastrophic impacts even if countries manage to limit warming to just 1.5 degrees Celsius, a target we are not close to reaching. Unless we change our economy and society radically and immediately, today’s young people will witness rapid changes in our climate that will affect their lives in every possible way. They will be unable to prevent mass extinctions, increased extreme weather events such as droughts and flooding, sea level rise, major impacts on our ability to produce food and the displacement of tens or even hundreds of millions of climate refugees.
The Curriculum for Excellence is based on the idea that we support Scotland’s young people to become responsible citizens. I hope you will agree with me that every school student who takes action against the climate crisis is demonstrating this admirable quality. As the First Minister has said, these young people deserve to have their voices heard.
As such, I urge you to show you understand the struggle faced by this generation, and I ask that you ensure young people in your area are not punished for speaking up. Punitive action would be inappropriate and pointless when the future of our species and our planet is at stake. Similarly, teachers who are supporting action on the climate crisis should also be supported rather than reprimanded.
I trust that in the face of this crisis you will take appropriate actions to support these brave young people.”