Extinction Rebellion activists and school children held a strike in Coventry yesterday.

The small gathering called for immediate action to tackle climate change and follows the example set by Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunburg.

Yesterday’s action was held in support of Global Climate Day of Action and in partnership with Fridays for Future, the movement founded by Ms Thunburg.

Coventry school students chose to go on strike from their lessons in order to demonstrate their demand that governments act on climate crisis.

Extinction Rebellion members and striking students held up flags, banners and posters and spoke to passers-by about why climate is an urgent issue. Many local people had seen the recent Extinction Rebellion mass protests in London, in which Coventry members took part.

Extinction Rebellion Coventry founder Rachel Gering-Hasthorpe said “We’re all scared about climate crisis, but for these young people the fear for their future is particularly real. The recent fires in California, as well as flooding and other weather events that we see in the UK, show us that climate breakdown is on our doorstep.

“We need to give young people a safe world to grow up in. The Covid crisis has shown us that when we need to, we can act fast and we can act together. Coventry City Council, as well as national government, needs to put the same resources and energy towards fighting the climate crisis that they have given to fighting the coronavirus – if they don’t, they are failing in the first duty of government, which is to keep citizens safe.”

Claire, 33, a mum who was at the event with her two children, aged six and two.

She said “I’m involved in Extinction Rebellion because I’m frightened for my children’s future. The UN has warned of the floods, crop failures and extreme heat that all countries face if we don’t go carbon neutral in the next few years. We need to put their future first.”

Nancy Silvester, grandmother of five and former teacher, was present and said “The children are the ones whose lives and whole world are totally at stake. Many of them are very aware of this, but they are being frustrated in their efforts to alert those in power. They need all the support they can get. I so admire their bravery and clear thinking.”

Extinction Rebellion Coventry recently set out a pair of shoes for every person who dies of pollution-related illness in Coventry in an average year.

Ms Gering-Hasthorpe added: “Now is a time of fear for the climate, but it can also be a time of hope, if we act together. We’re asking local people to act in whatever way they can – maybe by finding and sharing our events on social media, maybe just by talking to friends and family about the climate.

“Every action for the climate helps show government that this is a priority for us, and helps spread the word.”

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