Three months on from Durham University’s first Climate Strike (which you can read about here), students gathered again to urge the University to declare a climate emergency and step up its response to the climate crisis. Poignantly held on Valentine’s Day, this was an occasion for showing love to the planet <3 as we rallied together outside Bill Bryson Library, before proudly marching down to the Market Place, where we joined the Youth Strikers. And while this was only the second climate strike organised by ECO DU (along with 15 students groups and associations), the day marked the one-year anniversary of Durham’s ‘YouthStrike4Climate’, celebrating a whole year of Durham school students leaving their lessons in order to assemble and have their voices heard.
Once we reached the Market Place, it was both humbling and empowering to see university students and local residents of all ages standing, singing, and chanting together, passionate about the same cause. If that wasn’t heartwarming enough, the speeches given by some of the striking school students were positively inspiring; with the 17-year-old organiser delivering an impassioned speech about how governments and institutions are continuing to fail to respond to the climate crisis with the urgency that it demands. Spirits were then roused by singing along to a range of catchy climate-themed songs, my favourite being a reworking of ‘What Shall We Do With a Drunken Sailor?’ as ‘What Can We Do About Global Warming?’ We also heard from several university students on different elements of the crisis, including my fellow exec member from the Vegetarian and Vegan Society, Isobel Jacob, who spoke about how shifting to a plant-based diet is a highly impactful way that we can reduce our individual carbon footprint, as well as extend our compassion to animals.
Sign the petition!
Members of ECO DU held up a banner at the strike with a QR code, linking to their petition which calls on the University to go carbon neutral – and after only three weeks, it has now gained over 700 signatures. And while co-organiser of the university climate strikes, Anna Marshall, was certainly pleased with the success of the event, she expressed her desire to keep the momentum going, admitting that:
“We haven’t achieved our aims yet, and the crisis is only going to get more serious, and so I think we need some new voices, and new leaders, to make Durham a more politically active campus. It took me a long time before I was willing to lead protests, but I’m hoping that now we’ve done a couple, people will feel empowered to take a more active role in organising the next one.’“
The next climate strike has already been set for March 13, and Anna’s words are evidence that no one is going to stop putting pressure on those in power to deliver solutions any time soon. Until they do, we’re going to keep on striking!
See more information about the 14th February strike here
Find out more information about the next UK climate strike here