A collective sense of making a difference pervaded Scarborough’s contribution to one of the biggest days of environmental activism in human history.
In towns and cities around the world, millions of people walked out of school and work to demand climate action from their governments, three days before the UN climate-change summit in New York.
In the UK, over 200 strikes unified around an unrelenting demand to global leaders, inspired by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg.
In Scarborough, as elsewhere, the core message came predominantly from young people and children who feel passionately that the planet’s fundamental needs are being ignored.
Remy Stevens, 11, carried a home-card placard stating that he was missing his favourite class to take part. “We young don’t deserve this”, he said. “We have to save our world”.
Four pupils from Newby primary and Scalby secondary schools were accompanied by head teacher Chris Knowles of Scalby Learning Trust. Leah Sutcliffe, 14, Jacob Baker, 10, Scarlett Winspear, 10, and Jack Naylor Dunn, 14, run an eco-club at school to raise awareness of environmental issues.
A big cheer went up when a large group from St Augustine’s appeared at the assembly point, by the clock tower at Falsgrave traffic lights. Overseen by the mandatory legal observer, marching to a drumbeat bashed out at the front and holding up a fair bit of traffic, the protestors walked towards the pedestrian precinct. Outside the Stephen Joseph Theatre, they waited for the lights to turn green and crossed peacefully. By that time, their number had swelled to about 200.
Pedestrians shouted things like “Good for you!” and one or two disgruntled drivers snorted as their fossil-fuelled journeys were delayed by couple of minutes.
Besides the children, participants ranged from Extinction Rebellion activists to unaffiliated members of the public and from Quakers to members of Unison, the Green Party, Frack Free Scarborough and the Labour Party including parliamentary candidate Hugo Fearnley, one of several speakers outside the Brunswick Pavilion. He said: “It's amazing to see all the people, young and old, show solidarity to make their voices heard and raise awareness about this existential threat we face”. The march concluded outside the town hall.
Pithy placards expressed the marchers’ message as eloquently and succinctly as anyone else: System change not climate change, Climate action now, Strike 4 climate, Every disaster movie starts with the government ignoring a scientist, There is no planet B, Our house is on fire, Emergency on planet earth, Let’s make history not end it, Save the environment (sic), Climate jobs now, People and planet before profit, It’s the end of the world as we know it, Running out of time – tick tock, etc.
One marcher carried a list of ‘Scarborough demands’: free transport; local sustainable food production to reduce food miles; free water-bottle fill-up places; more and cheaper alllotments, promote eating less meat; cut down fewer trees and plant more trees; no single-use plastic in schools and colleges, which should recycle waste; more electric-car charging points; the councils and shops should publish their carbon footprints; stop using oil and gas.