Skip To Content
BuzzFeed News Home Reporting To You

Thousands Of Teens Have Gone On Strike From Schools Across Europe To Demand Action On Climate Change

After the UK prime minister said 15,000 UK students who boycotted school to demonstrate “wastes lesson time,” the 16-year-old girl who inspired the protest movement replied, “political leaders have wasted 30 [years] of inaction.”

Posted on February 15, 2019, at 12:55 p.m. ET

Ben Stansall / AFP / Getty Images

Thousands of young people took to the streets across Europe on Friday as student strikes calling for action to curb climate change continue to spread around the globe.

The movement, which was inspired by a solitary picket by a Swedish teenager named Greta Thunberg, has grown into a global push that has seen thousands of students strike in several European countries and Australia.

In nearly every country where strikes have taken place, the push is being led by teenage girls, who told BuzzFeed News they've been coordinating globally using WhatsApp, a Discord server, and weekly conference calls convened on Zoom.

Scientists agree that human-made climate change is a real and urgent threat, one that's already playing out in the form of rising seas and warming temperatures. Frustrated that adults aren't doing enough to combat the crisis, students are going on strike.

Another global day of action — which will also include protests in the US — is being organized for March 15.

The UK had one of the largest turnouts this week, where students held mass protests for the first time. It's estimated 15,000 young people took part.

Students protest in Brighton, in the UK.
Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

Students protest in Brighton, in the UK.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May criticized the students through a spokesperson, saying, "Disruption increases teachers’ workloads and wastes lesson time that teachers have carefully prepared for." Thunberg, who has more than 175,000 followers on Twitter, posted this reply:

British PM says that the children on school strike are “wasting lesson time”. That may well be the case. But then again, political leaders have wasted 30 yrs of inaction. And that is slightly worse. #schoolstrike4climate #FridaysForFuture #ClimateStrike https://t.co/PoSCXin3VN

The protests got support from many other senior politicians, including Britain's opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn and former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres.

Though, ironically, the Swedish capital Stockholm had one of the smallest mobilizations this week, with Swedish Radio reporting just 50 people rallying with Thunberg.

One of the largest UK protests was outside Parliament.

Thousands of students here !! Literally amazing !!! #fridays4future #youthstrike4climate I can’t believe it —- tears in my eyes xxxxxx

But other demonstrations are being staged throughout the country, including in Cardiff.

‘Climate not profit’ @IPCC_CH says we need urgent cross societal change. #cardiff @futuregencymru @AssemblyWales #strike4climate School strike continues! #climatestrike #klimatstrejk #FridaysForFuture #ClimateEmergency @GretaThunberg @Team4Nature @extinctsymbol @EcoSchoolsWales

Thousands of young people also held protests across several cities in Germany, which has been locked in a bitter fight over the future of coal power. In Cologne, students staged a spontaneous sit-in.

Police trying to break up #Fridays4Future school strike protest in Cologne. Spontaeous sit-in. These kids won’t listen till you start listening to them. 💚

Demonstrations also took place in the cities of Leipzig and Potsdam.

Auf zum Neuen Rathaus #Leipzig #Fridaysforfuture #ClimateJustice #EndCoal #AlleDörferBleiben #propödelwitz #hambibleibt

Striking school students in Potsdam, Germany #Fridays4Future #ClimateStrike #schoolstrike4climate The "2038" on their banner is the date proposed by the govt.'s Coal Commission to end coal. It says "2028 is much too late for the climate" #EndCoal https://t.co/1h2fy1P1BN

The climate strikes are just taking off in France, where a group of around 300 students rallied outside of the ecology ministry. Minister Brune Poirson emerged from the building to say she would hold talks with the students, saying, "Behind these doors you have no opponents."

.@brunepoirson vient leur proposer une discussion : « Derrière cette porte, vous n’avez pas des adversaires »

Belgium, where the climate strikes have been held on Thursdays, had an estimated 11,000 marchers yesterday in the capital, Brussels. Among those taking part was one of the teenagers at the heart of the Belgian protests, Anuna De Wever.

Paul-henri Verlooy / AFP / Getty Images

The Belgian protests are ramping up into a new phase, with university students joining the demonstrations that began with high schoolers.

The climate strikes haven't taken off in a big way in the US yet, but 13-year-old Alexandria Villasenor tweeted that she was holding her 10th picket in front of UN headquarters in New York.

WEEK 10 of my @UN #ClimateStrike in NYC. Today I strike in solidarity with thousands of UK students & https://t.co/lSbWPBP04e! We go global March 15th because "Change is coming whether you like it or not!" @GretaThunberg #SchoolStrike4Climate @350 @HillaryClinton @nytclimate @AOC

Dozens of more protests are being planned around the world — from Uganda to South Korea — in the lead-up to the global protest scheduled for March 15. Many organizers are posting their plans at the website Fridays for Future.

Fridays for Future / Via fridaysforfuture.org
Leon Neal / Getty Images





ADVERTISEMENT