Environment

Kids’ climate change protests give Caroline Lucas hope for the planet

The former Green Party leader was quizzed by 17-year-old Devon school striker Sophie Sleeman on how the battle to save the Earth can be won

Caroline Lucas

Caroline Lucas has told Devon school striker Sophie Sleeman that the climate change protests are “one of the most hopeful and inspiring things that have happened in many years”.

Sophie Sleeman is a 17-year-old #FridaysForFuture activist. #FridaysForFuture encourages children around the world to organise school climate strikes, led by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg.

She is one of more than 1.4 million children around the globe have taken to the streets in recent weeks to demand action from political leaders in response to climate change.

Sophie Sleeman Caroline Lucas
sophie-sleeman-Earth-Day
Sophie Sleeman is a member of climate change campaigners Fridays for Future

So we asked Sophie to interview Lucas for this week’s Youth Climate Action special edition Big Issue magazine.

And the former leader of the Green Party and current Green MP for Brighton told her: “What makes the climate strikes hopeful is that young people have a small number of very clear dramatic goals: they’re talking about democracy and the importance of young people having a say over their future.”

The ongoing strikes around the world have received mixed responses from UK politicians, notably being criticised by Theresa May.

Lucas urged the strikers to continue to demonstrate for change, encouraging them to push for a Green New Deal to equip the UK to address the climate crisis.

The UK Student Climate Network has laid out a series of principles for a policy plan that would form a Green New Deal.

The group say: “We need to transform our economy and society at the speed necessary to prevent climate breakdown. We need to do what is required of us – not simply what is seen as politically possible.”

But the school protests have so far been just the tip of the iceberg, UK organisation Extinction Rebellion has brought areas of London to a standstill with a series of “shutdowns” that have seen more than 400 demonstrators arrested so far.

And Lucas is no in doubt of how important it is to focus young minds on tackling climate change – and that process starts in school. She said: “Declaring a climate emergency is really important, and a demand around an education system fit for the challenges we face.”

Read the full interview only in this week’s Big Issue.

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