On February 15, thousands of UK school children will go on strike. Events are being prepared in many cities such as London, Manchester, Glasgow and Brighton. The protesters will follow the example of other students from around the world that went on strike over the past few months. Last November 15,000 students marched in 30 towns and cities in Australia. In January, 35,000 teenagers demonstrated in Brussels and 45,000 children did the same in dozens of German and Swiss cities. All these protests will be followed by a huge, global student strike on March 15. But why are all these children skipping school to take part in demonstrations?
What adults are doing
These students are protesting against their governments. They say that politicians are not doing enough to fight climate change. They claim that if we don’t take radical action now, there will be more and more extreme weather events such as wildfires, droughts, heat waves and tornadoes. Earth will become a very dangerous planet to live on. It is true that governments meet regularly to discuss climate change – the latest conference was held in Poland last December and was called COP 24 – but the young protesters say that the decisions taken at these meetings are not enough. They say that even the more virtuous nations are doing too little to prevent a global catastrophe.
What can children do?
Children can’t vote, but they can take action. “Youth have a very powerful voice,” says Raynne Penconek from Canada. He is one of eighteen teenagers from various countries who met in Poland last December to find solutions to climate change. Their project was called #Decarbonize #Decolonize, and they presented their ideas at the COP 24 conference. They also invited children from around the world to use art to raise awareness about the problem. Avery McRae from Oregon did something different. When she was 5 she read a book about snow leopards and was “super heartbroken” when she learned that they were an endangered species. She decided to raise money for the animals by making and selling cakes and Christmas decorations. She raised $200, which she gave to an association that protects snow leopards. She didn’t stop there. In 2015, she joined twenty other kids to formally accuse the US government of not taking action against climate change. A similar group of young people in Colombia accused their government of not doing enough to stop the cutting down of the Amazon rainforest. They won, and the Supreme Court of Colombia ordered the government to stop the destruction of the rainforest.
The global strike of March 15
The student strikes around the world are the product of one girl’s actions. Last August, 15-year-old Greta Thunberg from Sweden started striking every Friday outside Swedish parliament. She demanded that politicians act against climate change. Her story became so famous that she was invited to speak at the COP 24 conference. She also spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this January. She scolded the politicians and businessmen at Davos for thinking only of making money instead of saving the planet. She told them that they had to act “as if your house is on fire. Because it is.” Greta has changed her lifestyle to reduce her impact on the climate. For example, she didn’t travel to Davos by plane, but took the more ecological train instead, even though the train ride took 32 hours. “You are never too small to make a difference,” she said. “If a few children can get headlines all over the world for not going to school, then imagine what we could do all together.” The global school strike of March 15 might be the first real taste of that.
1) Here are some articles on the student strikes for Climate:
2) Explore the #Decarbonize#Decolonize website:
and check out the section on ‘Youth Art for Climate’:
3) Read about the children trying to sue the American Government:
4) Here is what Greta Thunberg said at the COP 24 conference:
5) And this is Greta’s speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos:
1) Read the article and complete the sentences with the right alternative.
1. The student strikes for climate began
- last year.
- this year.
- in January.
2. The students are saying that politicians are
- endangering their future.
- taking radical action.
- fighting climate change.
3. Extreme weather events
- are inevitable.
- can be prevented.
- will surely be stopped.
4. To prevent a global catastrophe all governments need to
- follow the example of the more virtuous nations.
- follow the decisions of COP 24.
- do much more than what they’re doing right now.
5. Child activists believe that the decisions taken at COP 24 are
- more than enough.
- a small step in the right direction.
6. You can have a say in political decisions if you
- raise money.
- take action.
7. Raynne Penconek gave a report of his ideas to the
- COP 24 conference.
- Snow Leopard Trust.
- American Government.
8. Avery McRae sued the American Government for
- endangering snow leopards.
- making the future climate unsafe.
- breaking her heart.
9. Greta Thunberg told the businessmen at Davos that they were
- Greta Thunberg believes that
- children are too little to participate in politics.
- everybody should stop taking the plane.
- anything is possible if people work together.
2) Complete the sentences with the following words. Put the verbs and nouns in the right form, if necessary.
wildfire * strike * to skip * heartbroken * lifestyle * endangered * rainforest * to make a difference * headline * to scold
1. A ______ (strike) is a form of protest. Workers often use it to ask for better working conditions.
2. Her pet dog died, that’s why she’s ______ (heartbroken).
3. Pandas are a famous example of an ______ (endangered) animal.
4. He always ______ (skips) breakfast. He’s never hungry in the morning.
5. A tropical jungle is also called ______ (rainforest).
6. ______ (To make a difference) means to have a significant effect on something.
7. A ______ (lifestyle) is the way in which a person lives his life.
8. The ______ (headline) is the title of a newspaper article.
9. Last summer, there were many ______ (wildfires); it was so hot and the vegetation was so dry that many forests burned.
10. Her teacher ______ (scolded) her for leaving her book at home.
GRAMMAR – Future forms (present simple, present continuous, will, shall, be going to)
3) Complete the sentences choosing the correct future form.
1. Scientists say that the heat wave will end/ends next week.
2. We have a plan to help the snow leopard. We will raise/are going to raise money tomorrow at the conference.
3. The conference is going to start/starts at 9 am.
4. Shall we support/Do we support the children striking? I believe we should.
5. Hurry! The train for Davos will leave/leaves in one minute!
6. He is coming/shall come I have to pick him up at the airport.
7. I’m sure that tomorrow’s strike will be/is a success.
8. The car pollutes a lot. Shall we take/Will we take the train instead?
9. Look at those clouds over there. I think it is going to rain/shall rain
10. She meets/is meeting the politicians next week to tell them about her ideas.
4) Choose an example of social activism by children (it can be a personal experience, one mentioned in the article or any other). Research it and write about it. (60-80 words)
5) Choose one of these climate strike slogans and comment on it. (60-80 words)
– There is no planet B
– March now or swim later
– Don’t be a fossil fuel!
– If you don’t act like adults, we will!
– Safety before profits
– Change the system not the climate
– Respect existence or expect resistance