The return of Bristol’s climate strikes

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For the first time since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, young people took to the streets of Bristol on Friday 24th September to protest the lack of action on the climate and ecological emergency.

Led by the group Bristol Youth Strike 4 Climate, this was the first youth climate strike in Bristol since February 2020, when the unofficial Swedish figurehead of the movement, Greta Thunberg, visited the city, with a turnout of over 30,000. Friday’s march and rally were significantly smaller, with about 300 attendees.

This should not be taken as a sign of failure though – the climate strike movement’s long pause means that is has lost most of its previous momentum, plus the 30,000 attendees was definitely an outlier for Bristol, which often had around no more than a few thousand attendees.

After assembling on College Green at 11am, protestors heard from speakers representing various environmental organisations, including Bristol Airport Action Network, clean air campaign Our Air Our City, as well Dr Mya-Rose ‘Birdgirl’ Craig, 19, who became the youngest ever Briton to be awarded an honorary doctorate after being awarded one in Science by the University of Bristol.

This time, the youth climate strikers focussed on two themes: ‘intersectional climate justice’ and ‘time is running out’, as well as the local issues of airport expansion. The protest was held alongside others on the same day across the world, including Glasgow and London in the UK.

Protestors marched around the city centre

Some will make their previous criticisms of the movement heard again, from the message and the aims to the tactics of the protests. In the comments section of the article I wrote for Bristol 24/7 in support of the strikes, one commenter claimed I was “misguided” and “completely removed from the reality of life”. This was alongside making many assumptions on how I believe the climate and ecological crisis should be resolved, the main one being that I supposedly wanted to shift the cost onto the working class.

Other comments included those on Bristol Live, describing BYS4C as “morons from out of space,” the “village idiot brigade,” and last but not least, “loony toon kids.”

The school strike movement is most certainly used to these comments by now: they are nothing new. Where this movement goes now, we will have to see, but the youth strikes for climate are back in Bristol.