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THOUSANDS of protesters in Britain are expected to join the “Global Climate Strike” today, demanding the government takes action to halt climate change.
The student-led action, backed in Britain by trade unions, has won support from some employers — supporting workers in downing tools for half an hour to join the protests.
More than 200 protests are planned across Britain, contributing to more than 2,500 worldwide. The climax of the protests in Britain will be a “climate alarm” sounded at 1pm by protesters using klaxons and other implements.
Britain’s Parliament declared a “climate emergency” when Labour forced a motion through the House of Commons but the government has done little to avert a forthcoming crisis of rising seas, floods, fires and other extreme weather attributed to the burning of fossil fuels and resultant carbon emissions.
The strike won support at this year’s Trades Union Congress (TUC) in Brighton, where workers will stop work for half an hour today.
Across Britain regional TUCs have urged workers to take part.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Workers in the energy sector and energy-intensive industries like steel, chemicals and ceramics must have a voice at the heart of plans to decarbonise our economy.”
Universities and colleges are expected to come to a standstill as students are joined by their lecturers and other staff at the action.
The University and College Union (UCU) submitted the original motion to gain the TUC’s support.
UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “The trade union movement is fully behind the actions against the climate crisis.
“The work done by Greta Thunberg and school students around the world has been inspirational and now it’s time for the rest of us to make our voices heard.”
The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) also pledged its support for the protests.
PCS president Fran Heathcote will be addressing a demonstration in Newcastle to say that climate change is a trade union issue and that the labour movement must unite to save the planet.
In Scotland protests will take place in Aberdeen, Crieff, Dundee, Edinburgh, Inverness, Glasgow, Fort William, St Andrews, Ullapool, Lochgilphead, Shetland, Stirling and Perth.
Dylan Hamilton, a 15-year-old organiser with Scottish Youth Climate Strike, said: “The climate crisis will affect billions of people for generations to come, which is why we need everybody to strike.”
Thousands are expected to join the action in Manchester. Martin Porter, coordinator of Manchester Greenpeace Group, called on everyone “who wants to stop climate change to join the young people today.”
Workers from the National Theatre, Tate Modern, Tate Britain and the Southbank Centre, as well as actors and artists, will be joining the strike in Westminster to demand all cultural institutions and creatives step up their efforts to tackle the climate crisis.
Cultural organisations currently produce huge amounts of CO2 including through heating, lighting, plastic use and flights.
Many are also sponsored by some of the biggest fossil fuel polluters on the planet, such as BP’s sponsorship of the British Museum.
Labour for a Green New Deal spokeswoman Lauren Townsend said the youth climate movement is “showing us all the way.”
She told the Star: “The Labour Party must stand ready to take up the youth strikers’ calls for a worker-led Green New Deal, which aims to decarbonise Britain by 2030, create millions of high quality, well-unionised green jobs and significantly increase living standards.
“Solidarity with all of those taking action today — you fill so many of us with hope for the future.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is expected to thank young strikers outside Parliament “for educating us about the climate crisis and the emergency of species extinction and biodiversity loss.”
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