Be the change you wish to see

Louis Velati on a climate change demo in London
Louis Velati on a climate change demo in London

Student striker Louis Velati, 18, on why we must act now to stop climate change

We are facing the end of the world as we know it.

Shocking statements such as this are sometimes easy to dismiss as hyperbole and scaremongering, yet we have sailed through vanilla warnings from scientists and environmentalists for decades. Our collective indifference means that we have reached a point where it really is ‘make or break’ for the planet.

The urgency of the problem is what led me to walk out of school several times as part of the global ‘Fridays for Future’ climate strike movement, which has seen millions of school children across the world ditch lessons in classrooms for protest on the streets. Many claim this is simply youthful rebellion, but to do this does a disservice to the vast majority of students, who are there because they have educated themselves on the issue and feel a deep moral responsibility to act.

For me, I went out of desperation. I was exasperated with the lack of urgency on the issue by the government and global politicians. I had sat in geography lessons where they taught us the dire impacts of global warming; the creation of millions of environmental refuges, a sixth mass extinction of species and the irreversible degradation of our planet.

When I heard that coral reefs would likely disappear in my lifetime, I sat there in disbelief. If we knew that these awful things were going to happen, why were we doing so little? For its critics this movement is devoid of hope, but it is borne out of a sentiment to the contrary; it is only through radical change that we can have any hope for our future.

So what are the solutions? In the words of Swedish school striker Greta Thunberg: “We can no longer save the world by playing by the rules, because the rules have to be changed.”

The government has enshrined the Paris Agreement’s emission targets into law, but its own analysis shows we are not on track to meet them. This means those politicians who insist the UK is already taking sufficient action to combat climate change are misled at best and knowingly deceitful at worst. I therefore implore you to challenge politicians, at all levels and of all parties, when they make such claims.

It is brilliant news that at a recent Enfield Council meeting councillors voted to declare a ‘climate emergency’ and recommended that the pension committee commit to divest the borough’s pension fund from fossil fuels. But we must ensure we pressure the council so that this declaration extends past virtue signalling and into meaningful action. I would also invite everyone reading this article, irrespective of your age, to join the worldwide Fridays for Future climate strike on Friday 20th September. We need transformative change; it begins with us.