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From: The Socialist issue 1031, 27 February 2019: Kick out austerity politicians

Search site for keywords: Climate change - Students - Young people - Socialist Students

Socialist change, not climate change!

  • Build a movement to challenge the profit system
  • Build mass walkouts on 15 March
Student climate strikers blocking the road at Parliament Square, photo James Ivens

Student climate strikers blocking the road at Parliament Square, photo James Ivens   (Click to enlarge)

Gareth Bromhall, Swansea Socialist Students

"We have not come here to beg the world leaders to care for our future. They have ignored us in the past and they will ignore us again.

"We have come here to let them know that change is coming whether they like it or not. The people will rise to the challenge."

This was the rallying cry of 15-year-old Swedish climate activist leader Greta Thunberg, addressing world leaders at the United Nations climate change conference last year.

Since then hundreds of thousands of school, college and university students across the world have joined a wave of strike action and direct action.

Young people are facing the reality that just 100 companies are to blame for 71% of global carbon emissions, and that only 26 individuals own and control wealth equivalent to half of the world's population - some 3.8 billion poor people.

Young people realise that this capitalist hoarding and reckless disregard for the planet cannot last.

And with climate experts claiming we have 12 years left to save the planet, young people are taking to the streets, striking for change.

This movement rocked the UK on 15 February when tens of thousands of students and young people descended on parliament, and thousands more walked out of schools, colleges and campuses across the country on the first #YouthStrike4Climate.

Socialist Students and Young Socialist groups mobilised to take part in what could develop into an important new youth movement, the likes of which we have not seen for nearly a decade.

These strikes, coming just weeks after Socialist Students passed a motion at our national conference to support climate protests and divestment efforts, have captured the imagination of young people.

Awareness

Placards reading "If the earth was a bank it would have been bailed out by now," and "System change not climate change" have been shared widely on social media, showing that this generation of activists - having known only austerity - is becoming aware of what needs to be done to save the planet.

Given the lack of leadership from the trade unions and Labour Party, it is understandable that some students distrust political action, or look mostly to individual lifestyle changes.

But Socialist Students explains that challenging the capitalists responsible for greenhouse gas emissions is inherently political. And only mass collective action for a socialist alternative can achieve it.

Direct action to shut down roads is a valid publicity tactic. But using the power of the organised working class in the trade unions to shut down the capitalist economy is much more effective.

Socialists also need to explain impossibility of solving climate change within the limitations of the capitalist system, and argue that we need to nationalise the energy industry, infrastructure and the commanding heights of the economy (in order to democratically plan society) if we are to have the chance to stop this environmental catastrophe.







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