The unprepossessing setting of a car park opposite Berwickshire High School was the scene of noisy, thoughtful, fun-filled and deeply concerned protest on Friday 20 September, designated GLOBAL STRIKE FOR CLIMATE day, the first time ever students across the world had asked adults to join their School Strike for Climate protests.
It was also the first time that any student at Berwickshire High, or any other Berwickshire school had come out for School Strike for Climate and when the school doors opened at 10.30am and students streamed out carrying their placards, they did so to loud applause from the waiting adults.
Kate Duncan, co-coordinator of East Borders Extinction Rebellion, said: “It was inspiring and moving to see so many students take this big decision to go out of school and say they had a right to a future.
“This action was the students’ own, we provided a place and a time; they came by themselves once the headmaster made it clear that there was no penalty for striking if they had parental consent.’ ‘And that’, one student said, ‘was it sorted.”
The students flowed into the car park decorated with Extinction Rebellion, School Strike and Scottish Youth for Climate Strike posters, banners and placards and promptly began to make more with the boards and materials provided.
They picked up the open mic and made speeches, expressing their anger and anxiety about climate change and governments who do little about it. Iona (10 ) said: “I’m striking because I want the politicians to stop thinking about Brexit and start thinking about climate change. I am worried about the future and unless the politicians start to take this seriously we might not have one.”
A small brass band broke into Tijuana Brass; a groups of girls stood on the wall and sang “I Love the Earth’ and another group chanted climate change slogans.
Georgia (15) thought it was great that Duns could stage a strike like the big cities do. “We’re scared too,” she said, “And we should do this again.”
Some sat on the wall facing the road holding their placards up to passing traffic and cheered when drivers responded with beeps and honks of agreement with their cause. It seemed to be in tune with a recent poll showing that three quarters of the public think climate change is the most important issue the world faces.
As small groups drifted back to school, many older students sat on the wall talking about their fears over climate change. Their concerns were with what is now regular news, floods on one hand, droughts on the other, blazing wildfires, hurricanes, rapid extinction of species. They are in fear for their future. They want information and they want their voices heard. Will they have a future? Who is listening?