Youth strike for the climate, London 15 February 2019

Strikers occupy roads around Trafalgar Square

Thousands of youths – school pupils and students – along with their teachers, parents and activists, took to the streets of London on 15 February in a spontaneous outpouring of rage, optimism and political energy. Their target was Westminster and they demanded radical change to urgently save the planet and end climate change which is senselessly destroying their futures. The RCG attended this in solidarity with striking students and to highlight the need for socialism to save the environment. The Labour movement and its hangers-on were taken by surprise, and had almost no presence on the streets, while thousands of youths blocked roads, climbed onto monuments and demanded drivers turn off their engines. There were no organised speeches or A to B marches. The youth, without illusions or investments in the present corrupt system, reminded older generations how to disobey.

The strike – immediately condemned by Conservative politicians including Prime Minister Theresa May as an act of mass truancy – was organised by Youth Strike 4 Climate and inspired by the action of Swedish school pupil and climate activist Greta Thunberg who has gone on strike every Friday to demand action on climate change. Thunberg’s example captures the spirit of countless other young people in cities around the world who are eager for political action. Youth Strike 4 Climate UK have put forward demands for enfranchisement (by lowering the voting age to 16), for the government to declare climate change an emergency and to systematically educate young people about the urgency of the climate crisis. Teachers and parents were on the streets in solidarity with their children. We spoke on a megaphone to the crowd outside Downing Street of the example of Cuba, where the voting age is 16, with its planned socialist economy, and its consequent achievement of being the only country developing sustainably.

RCG stall at the Youth Strike 4 Climate

One 16-year-old asked RCG comrades how he could go about organising his fellow pupils to block traffic on the roads of Westminster. Many young people did so without the direction of any organisation, and some were arrested by the Metropolitan Police. As RCG comrades joined those sitting in the congested roads of Parliament Square, organised opportunists attempted to put a stop to it. One man dressed as ‘Sustaina-Clause’ pleaded that we had no permit from the police to occupy the roadways, and we were jeopardising the possibility of future protests. He was dismissed quickly, but other ‘organisers’ came to urge youths to get up and go and listen to speeches instead. These tactics are designed to demobilise and lessen the impact of any political action, and comrades were thanked for arguing publicly against them.

A further youth strike is planned for 15 March. With the threat of large numbers of young people organising political action outside the confines of the official left movement in Britain, we are sure to see attempts by the Labour Party to co-opt the strike. If past form is anything to go by, the Labour movement will try to co-ordinate with the police to make the next action as tame an affair as possible: youths expected to march along a planned route or be static and listen to a planned roster of speakers and perhaps music; promised the right to vote in elections; and then go back to school satisfied. But as we argued at the protest, any political party that is committed to capitalism is dooming the planet.

The RCG will be joining the 15 March action to expose the bourgeois politicians, encourage the most militant youth and amplify their voices in whatever way we can. We encourage students, parents and teachers to join as well. Follow the youth in their disobedience. Do not hold them back.


London branches

North London
020 7837 1688



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