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Great Britain

Global climate strike: Mayor hails ‘wisdom’ of Islington schoolchildren as they walk out for climate change action

Islington schoolchildren on strike to demand action on climate change. Picture: Freya Pickford

Islington schoolchildren on strike to demand action on climate change. Picture: Freya Pickford

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Hundreds of schoolchildren inspired by activist Greta Thunberg gathered today outside Islington town hall for the global climate strike.

Eleven schools from across Islington met to demand immediate action on climate change. Campaigners are calling for the council to use 100 per cent renewable energy.

Jeremy Corbyn, Islington's mayor Cllr Rakhia Ismail, council members, families and trade unions also attended the strike.

One organiser, Miranda Irwin, who works at Duncombe Primary School, told the Gazette: "I'm doing this mostly as a concerned parent. We can put pressure on the council, have our voices heard and unite as one voice.

"For me, just want my children to look back on this time and know that I tried to do something."

Alessia Giustiniano, another organiser, said Islington Council and local politicians are responsive to their requests, but added: "I'm always a bit worried when politicians come and take ownership of an event like this. I hope they don't take it as an opportunity to pursue their own electoral campaigns."

Canonbury Primary School head Patrick Mildren said: "As teachers and parents in our community, we want to see that the children experience a change in how the politicians and grownups are approaching climate change.

"Speaking locally, our school is right on Highbury Corner and the pollution from traffic is extremely high. There are parts of our playground that we cannot use and that's become worse over the last few months."

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Keriah Bruins, a nine-year-old pupil at the school said: "We hope we can make everything better and the world can change."

Her classmate Amelia Gillard, also nine, said: "Sometimes I feel scared. It's sad because our future is getting worse, but we can make a change and save the future."

Islington North MP and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was met with cheers and chanting from the crowd.

He said: "We have to reduce traffic. […] We have to have cleaner buses; we have to invest in hydrogen buses and other systems like that to reduce air pollution, because children growing up near a major road lose some of their lung capacity before they even get to primary school."

Islington's environment and transport chief Cllr Claudia Webbe told the Gazette: "We're delivering a transport strategy that rebalances our roads in favour of our people, so there are more cyclists and pedestrians and less cars.

"We want to eradicate petrol cars from our streets by 2030."

Referring to Finsbury's pioneering Bunhill Energy Centre, she added: "We're taking waste heat from a disused vent shaft from London Underground and transforming that heat into energy for people's homes."

Cllr Ismail praised the "words of wisdom from young people waking us and reminding us of the reality of what they'll be facing".

"It's so important to listen to them," she said.

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