In Birmingham, Coventry, and around the globe up to a million young people filled the streets to call for climate action for the Youth 4 Schools Strike. Many are worried about having a habitable planet when they got old. A future which the political class has decided to abandon by its inaction. Many other young people, mostly in poor countries, are living with the realities of 1C of warming right now. Their stories – like Brianna Fruean, 20 in Samoa in the South Pacific where they already have extreme cyclones, floods and droughts – are heartbreaking.
The school stikers are demanding climate action. It is the responsibility of the government to transform its policy agenda to put climate at the heart of every decision. Local government also has to play a part to play. Cities use two-thirds of the world’s energy and account for more than 70% of global CO2 emissions, so have an important part to play in reducing global emissions.
But as well as having a green policy agenda, which West Midlands councils claim to have, our local government has to demonstrate its commitment. It needs to reinvest the hundreds of millions of pounds that its pension fund, WMPF, has invested in the same dirty fuels which are condeming people like Brianna Fruean in Samoa to cataclysmic conditions caused by climate breakdown. Divesting these £ millions now is a small step, but it sends a strong signal that BP, Shell and the rest of the dirty fuel industry are losing their hold on our economy and our politicians. The youth have spoken. Our councils must respond.