Over the past few months, our attitudes to climate change and protecting the environment have shifted and become a lot more political.
A lot of different companies such as McDonald’s and Iceland have succumbed to the public demands that we use less plastic packaging, get rid of plastic straws and reduce the amount of palm oil they use in their products. However, it is clear that we need to do more. This strive for immediate change has led to a shift in the climate change movement becoming a political one.
Extinction Rebellion has been at the forefront of climate change protesting recently.
Describing her involvement protesting in London and Norwich with Extinction Rebellion, which initiated on the 15 March, first year student Tabitha Clarke-Scholes shared that ‘It felt great to advocate [for] change and be part of such a peaceful community but most of the news that day was focused on the graffiti (which may not be permanent as they used temporary ones that wash off in rain on the bridge) and broken glass at the shell office. This was not in line with the peaceful nature of the people I had seen.’
I also asked third year English Literature student, Rebecca Allen, if she thought that rallies such as Extinction Rebellion’s can create influential change. Allen replied, ‘Extinction Rebellion has been successful in hitting mainstream media so consistently that there will be repercussions.’ Allen also explained that while political movements have always existed, climate change protesting has ‘moved from the side-lines onto centre stage now.’
Maya Coom, who is currently in her second year studying English Literature, also shares similar sentiments regarding protesting bringing about influential change. She stated that this was ‘due to the power behind the movement and their resilience in the face of the police…The impact they have had already in bringing attention to their rebellion has been amazing to see… I can’t imagine the government being able to ignore the issues they are raising any longer.’
Indeed, it is also really important to recognise how involved students and younger generations are in protesting. For instance, Clarke-Scholes also mentioned the likes of Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old girl from Sweden who is known for having initiated her school’s youth strikes for climate change in late 2018. ‘Thunberg also attended the rebellion on Sunday and I watched her speech online. She is incredibly brave and strong.’ Many students across the country have travelled far to be involved in the protesting, demonstrating that climate change protesting is arguably going to be an uphill struggle on the journey to enforcing lasting change.
With semi-naked climate change protesters disrupting a Brexit debate in the House of Commons on the 1 April, protesting has definitely become more radical recently. The activists spent 20 minutes against the glass about the chamber. MPs attempted to continue the debate, but remarks were made about the protest in politicians’ speeches.
Clearly the public want our government to be more proactive in protecting the environment and have changed the nature of protesting so it’s more political to achieve change. In light of government declaring a climate emergency, political protesting has proven to make an influential impact and will hopefully continue to invoke change.