UK Teens Fighting the Climate Crisis

Op-ed

‘The natural world is the greatest source…of so much In life that makes it worth living.’

Sir David Attenborough.

The climate crisis has encouraged a rise in the young people of the world- with teenagers of all colors, backgrounds, and religions fighting for our Planet Earth. Catalyzed by the Swedish teen Greta Thunberg, strikes, protests, and movements have been increasing in popularity across Britain. With pressure growing on the UK government to take immediate action, passion, and interest over this highly relevant issue is ever-expanding.

'Young people have a special ability to inspire older generations....something which is really unique of the climate movement is the extent of young people working together to achieve change, and that is extraordinary.' -Amy Bray

Amy Bray, a 17-year-old campaigner with hopes for marine biology, launched her pop-up plastic-free shop at Austin Friars school in 2017. Since then, she has opened two sustainable shops in the Lake District and has even launched her own charity, Another Way, which frequently holds educational discussions and talks, and named the youngest ever Cumbria Woman Of the Year 2019.

Amy was recently featured on the front cover of the Carlisle Living magazine, nicknamed the ‘Green Queen’, and debated on live television on the nationwide show 'This Morning', dubbed the 'British Greta Thunberg'.

Cerys Gogh, age 16 from Langholm, organized her first fundraiser for WWF when she was eight, and thus began her activism journey. She’s no stranger to trailblazing, and, at the age of 14, won herself a scholarship trip to India with her inspirational video on disability awareness in schools, where she helped to build a school.

Cerys aims to educate Scotland (and further afield) about the dangers of climate change while pressuring the UK government with her strikes and protests. She even had the pleasure of meeting the most educated first lady in history, Michele Obama.

I had the pleasure to interview both Cerys and Amy, to gain more knowledge on how young people have impacted the climate movement from both sides of the England-Scotland border, and their individual views on the role of teenagers today, what you can do to aid the climate, and what they intend to do next. The Climate crisis really is a pressing issue- as Amy said;

'People think the Climate is an issue of the future. It isn't. It's an issue of the present.'

There’s a definite message to be derived from speaking with these knowledgeable young women- watch what they do next; You won’t want to miss it.

What impact are teenagers specifically making to the global climate crisis?

Cerys- the main thing is having it being brought into mainstream media, and it is being moved up on the political agenda. Two years ago, no one talked about the issue. It wasn’t on the news, it wasn’t talked about in politics, it wasn’t a key factor in general elections.

But now, thanks to young people starting organizations and charities, starting entire global movements, the world now knows about this issue and is talking about it. Politics is adapting to try and be able to meet the demands of young people

Amy- I think that the efforts of young people around the world haven’t gone unnoticed. So many organizations are starting to see the role of young people in inspiring communities and politicians to change. Of course, there are so many famous young activists around the world, that we hear about all the time, but there are also so many people at a local level doing amazing things, that perhaps don’t make the media. There are millions of young people out there trying to make a change, and we will make that happen because we care so much about the future.

'Thsnks to young people starting organisations and charities- starting entire global movements-the world now knows about this issue'- Cerys Gough

What are your top tips for lowering carbon emissions?

Cerys - The biggest thing is to change your diet. Eat less meat, eat less dairy. The next best thing to do is to stop flying or aim to fly less. There’s a campaign called Flight Free 2020. At the moment they have 50, 000 people pledging to not fly at all this year, and some are pledging to not fly for the next few years. So, the biggest changes are coming from diet and transport. so, drive less, use public transport, and don’t fly.

Amy - I would echo what Cerys said. There are so many different changes in the way that we consume. People buy so much stuff that is completely unnecessary. Modern society has such fast-paced consumerism, and that’s what it is built on, sadly. So, we’d need to think about the amount of stuff we buy in our everyday life, so clothes, toys.

Try to go to charity shops if you can, think ‘do I really need this?’ there are so many recycled options, and clothing brands making recycled clothes, which is great to see. Also, try and reduce the single-use plastic that you use. Take your own containers to the supermarket, buy local and seasonal food.

Asparagus from Peru has the highest carbon footprint of any food because it is transported around the world. As a general rule, if it is harder and more solid, it can be shipped and has a lower carbon footprint, but if it is a softer fruit like avocado or berries, it is flown.

The climate crisis has inspired millions of people to take the necessary action, especially teenagers. How has the role of young people in society developed over the course of this movement?

Cerys - Young people are listened to now more than ever because now world leaders on a global scale are thinking about what young people have to say. Teenagers voices are becoming really valuable. Young people are making more change than just having adults represented, because, if it wasn't for the teenagers, this movement wouldn’t be nearly as big as it is.

Amy- Young people have a very special ability to inspire older generations to be motivated and act on issues. We have seen that all around the world already, with people striving for change and in governmental organizations. Many people in the future will continue to be inspired to stand up and raise their voices against issues that they care about.

I think that something which is really unique of the climate movement is the extent of young people working together to achieve change, and that is extraordinary. Through social media, we have the ability to come together as never before. That is something that could be really special and important in the future.

The interview ended with an exchange of emails- perhaps we will see a collaboration between Amy and Cerys' inspiring young minds in the future. As Amy explained, young people have an incredible ability to make a massive difference. If you've been inspired by Amy and Cerys, find more information on the AnotherWay.org website, and Cerys' Instagram: @dumgal.sycs.

F1aafe90 5d71 46f9 91d1 4372a2f04120

Freya McCall

Freya McCall is a high school student from Scotland. She has always had a passion for writing, journalism and performing arts, and is excited to connect with a new online community.


Loving The Teen Magazine? Subscribe!