Take a stand on Earth Day with The Big Issue’s Youth Climate Action takeover

We've given young people a platform to raise awareness of the big issues they care about on Earth Day with a special edition of The Big Issue

Today is Earth Day.

This annual event has grown over the last 49 years, with a single and clear intention – to mobilise millions of people across the world to campaign for environmental issues.

The last 12 months have marked a significant change in climate campaigning. Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg was just 15 last August when she sat on the steps of the Swedish parliament with a sign reading SKOLSTREJK FÖR KLIMATET. She kickstarted a global movement.

Her ‘school strike for climate’ captured the imagination of millions of children around the globe who now regularly walk out of schools on Fridays to raise their concerns about climate change and the inaction of people in power to tackle what they believe will be the defining crisis of the century.

And while you may be frustrated by the adult climate protestors of recent days bringing major cities to a standstill, there is no doubting the validity of their message.

Mark Carney, Governor of The Bank Of England, and his French counterpart François Villeroy de Galhau have warned that global financial system faces an existential threat from climate change and must take urgent steps to reform.

He is echoing what the school strikers have been insisting. Time is running out.

Young activists

So this week, to coincide with Earth Day, we’ve invited some of the UK’s leading young environmentalists and climate campaigners to take control of the magazine – to share with us their biggest issue and tell us what is motivating them to take action.

They lay out what we all need to know, from the findings of the most exhaustive environmental research available, to how we can reconnect with nature.

They challenge Secretary of State for the Environment Michael Gove to make clear his plans for positive environmental reform and they ask Ofsted about the way schools themselves address their own teaching.

The future may be uncertain but the determination and resolution of those who will be future leaders is not.

Paul McNamee, Editor of The Big Issue, said: “Young people have seized the initiative and made the world think seriously, finally, about climate change. That’s why this week, to coincide with Earth Day, we have invited them to hold people in positions in power to account.

“The adults might not be getting it right, but they are. The future may be uncertain but the determination and resolution of those who will be future leaders is not.”

Our Earth Day Youth Climate Action takeover features:

  • Alex White, 15, a naturalist and wildlife blogger from Oxford, writes about the strikes and how they’re not just an excuse to skip classes
  • Sustainable fashion with M&S. Four young people went to M&S’s HQ to find out how their clothes are helping care for the planet. They quiz experts about the design and manufacture process, inspect a swimsuit made from recycled plastic bottles, find out how cotton is grown sustainably and how leather and wool products prioritise animal welfare. Then they learn about the afterlife of clothes, how M&S works with Oxfam for its Shwopping scheme that has so far collected 33 million items, raising £21 million. They get the hang(er) of recycling hangers and how environmental concerns will always be on trend
  • Michael Gove interviewed by 16-year-old George Bond from Dorset, a campaigner for the UK Youth Climate Coalition, covering topics including tree planting targets, fracking, Heathrow expansion, votes at 16 and manure
  • Finlay Pringle, 11, from Ullapool is an environmental campaigner and shark ambassador who writes about protecting the oceans
  • Mya-Rose Craig, 16, from Bristol writes about how climate change isn’t a vague notion to her because she has family in Bangladesh already feeling its extreme effects
  • Dara McAnulty, 15, is a conservationist and activist from Northern Ireland. Diagnosed with Asperger’s/Autism, he writes about how it’s easier for him to connect with the natural world than to other aspects of life
  • Sophie Sleeman, 17, from Dorset is an activist with the UK Youth Climate Change Network and writes about biodiversity, bees and reconnecting with nature. Sophie also interviews Green MP Caroline Lucas about declaring climate emergencies and what the future has in store for the young campaigners

Pick up the Youth Climate Action takeover special on the streets now, or head to The Big Issue Shop