By Ethan Van Diemen
It may be exam season, but dozens of school pupils on Friday took to the streets outside of Parliament in Cape Town to join in a global protest to demand action on climate change.
The pupils in Cape Town joined millions of their counterparts across the globe, with 1 351 climate strikes expected to take place in 110 countries.
In between call-and-respond chants of “stop denying our Earth is dying” and “too much pollution not enough oxygen”, the pupils handed over a memorandum – and probable first submission to the recently-elected 6th Parliament – to Paul Davids, Chief of Staff in the office of the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly.
In the memorandum, they demanded lawmakers take immediate and concrete action to stop climate change.
Davids said: “This is probably the first submission for the 6th Parliament. So when they [members of the legislature] get back to work, they’re going to have this demand up front, in front of them.
“Most of the members that are inside here [Parliament], they come from a hectic political background where they started their careers on the streets like this, and now young people are shouting for a different kind of change. They’re saying, ‘save the world’. Our call back in the day was ‘save South Africa’, now they’re saying, ‘no, it’s now time to save the world’.”
A 13-year-old named Grace said “the older generation will die of old age and we’re going to die of climate change if we don’t do something. They’re leaving us to fix their mistakes. We need to leave coal in the ground”.
The pupils in Cape Town joined millions of their counterparts across the globe in a movement, with 1 351 climate strikes expected to take place in 110 countries.
Luzuko, 15, said he was protesting outside of Parliament because he “wants to make a difference in the world and we need more people to do what we’re doing here”.
“We’re protesting because we only have, like, 12 years left before it’s irreversible and we’re done. I’m trying to stop that.”
He suggested government “switch from coal power to wind, hydro and solar power and more natural resources”, before adding that parents and adults in general needed to listen to their kids “and not just listen, like actually hear. The planet is really dying”.
Dee Janisch, a teacher who accompanied the pupils, said: “A bunch of the students are part of a module called ‘future now’, where we look at sustainability using the 17 United Nations goals as a lens to frame our education course.”
“Parents and school[s] are aware, all have given permission, all support it and back it.”
The climate strike, or Fridays for Future, global movement was started in 2018 by sixteen-year-old Swedish pupil Greta Thunberg, in which students around the world walk out of their classrooms to demand climate action.Thunberg and others have argued that they will still be young in 2030, the year in which a report by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns the climate crisis will be irreversible unless world leaders take immediate action to stop carbon emissions which are rapidly warming the planet.