Scarborough climate strike stops traffic as protesters demand action

The group ready to march on Falsgrave. PIC: Richard Ponter
The group ready to march on Falsgrave. PIC: Richard Ponter

Over one hundred people took part in the climate strike in Scarborough today (Friday 20).

Protests were planned in 120 countries around the globe, three days ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Summit in New York which starts on Monday.

Climate activists during the strike. PIC: Richard Ponter

Climate activists during the strike. PIC: Richard Ponter

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Following school strikes in Scarborough in February - a movement started by Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg last year - today adults also joined in the movement.

Representatives from the Scarborough and Whitby Labour party, the Green Party, the Quakers, Frack Free Scarborough and Extinction Rebellion turned out for the march which was organised by the Strike for Scarborough’s Climate group.

Beginning at Falsgrave Clock Tower at 11.30am, the demonstrators began down Falsgrave Road, blocking traffic as they proceeded before holding a rally outside the Brunswick Centre.

The strikers march down Falsgrave. PIC: Richard Ponter

The strikers march down Falsgrave. PIC: Richard Ponter

Speakers were then heard and the Frack Free Scarborough Samba Band played before at 1pm, the crowd sounded a climate alarm call - mirroring similar action happening around the world at the same time.

Hugo Fearnley, the Labour party's parliamentary candidate, took part in the demonstration.

He said: "For me the first thing to say is it's so amazing to see all the people - old to young - show solidarity to make their voices heard and raise awareness about this existential threat we face."

Action over the climate crisis is desperately needed, he said, adding he believes we should be viewing it as an opportunity to invest and become global leaders in green technology.

He advocated for retro-fitting insulation to the existing housing stock to both save people money on their bills and improve health and wellbeing, and also thought there should be programmes to significantly increase electric vehicle infrastructure.

"We need to decarbonise all industries as quickly as possible, but definitely by 2050," he added. "Boris Johnson's just found a couple of billion pounds down the back of the sofa for no-deal Brexit planning. If we have money for that there should be enough for this kind of planning around the climate."

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Murray Robertson, 16, a college student, played in the band which accompanied the march.

He first became interested in climate issues early last year and has attended previous demonstrations - citing fear of the future as the catalyst.

"It's the fear that we might not have a world to live on," he explained, "the unknown consequences, that are scary.

"[The council] aren't doing anything - they declared a climate emergency and nothing has been done."

Julia Smith had travelled from Pickering with her two daughters.

Since beginning an Open University degree in science last year she has become increasingly concerned by the climate crisis.

"My degree has informed me of the true depth of the consequences that we're facing," she said.

The cost and unreliability of public transport frustrates her, as prohibitively expensive public transport means it isn't always viable to chose that more environmentally-friendly way of getting around.

She explained: "It costs us £40 return to get to York, it is cheaper to have a car. The Government is not investing where it need to to reduce carbon in transportation.

"They're also not informing people what their carbon footprint should be individually to give them something to aim for. Scarborough Council should be doing that.

"All politicians are talking about Brexit but that's not going to be important in 100 years. They talk about [the climate] to score brownie points but they don't act."

Students from St Augustine's School had walked out on their classes to take part. Lois Chapman, Megan Carney, Rose Hollaway, Ellie Williams, Mia Caddy, Lucy Carson, Lily Schmuck and Rosa Clay, all 13, wanted to represent young people on the march.

They said: "If we don't do it, no one is going to. We want a world to live on."

After the final speaker, the group marched to the town hall where Labour Councillor Liz Colling was waiting to receive the list of demands the activists had created during their rally.

She said: "Thank you all for coming and making your voices heard. As you will know Scarborough Council did declare a climate change emergency.

"We do have some plans and we will be making those plans public. They're around electric charging points for vehicles, planting lots of trees, but do you know what, we cannot do this on our own. We need government, we need business to take a stance and collectively we can make a change."

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