MORE than 1,000 county children walked out of school to demonstrate in Oxford over climate change yesterday.

University students, sixth formers, secondary and primary pupils of all ages protested in Bonn Square.

Streets around the area filled with a noisy young crowd, who came armed with placards, slogans and warnings about global warming.

Among the demonstrators was a three-month-old baby, with the youngest school child involved thought to be just four. Many of the children were accompanied by parents and teachers.

The Oxford Times:

The crowd were addressed by Oxford environmentalist George Monbiot and Oxford West and Abingdon MP Layla Moran, but the event was orchestrated by school pupils – and replicated in various cities across the country.

LIVE: Student strike as it happened

However, not everyone was impressed by pupils’ antics, with some headteachers, politicians and Oxfordshire residents warning students ahead of time that there would be consequences for walking out of classes. The Conservative candidate for Ms Moran’s seat labelled her supportive stance ‘beyond irresponsible’, while the prime minister even waded into the debate to criticise striking students.

The Oxford Times:

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But, taking inspiration from Swedish 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, who is in her 26th week of a personal strike, students from across Oxfordshire took to the streets en masse from 11am to 2pm.

The action was part of a national event, ahead of a similar strike – on a global scale – planned for March 15.

The environmental activist and author George Monbiot, who addressed crowds, told The Oxford Mail: “I’ve been campaigning for 30 years, this is the most hopeful thing I’ve seen in that entire time.

“Children, some of whom might be risking punishment by their schools, coming out in huge numbers to do the job that our generation hasn’t done.”

The Oxford-based campaigner continued: “It’s a really beautiful thing that’s happening here and I hope this is a turning point, a moment where everything begins to change.”

The Oxford Times:

Protester Nathan Juerss, nine, from Didcot, said: “I’m fed up of climate change. We only have 12 years to take action and it’s not a lot of time.”

The United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently warned that there are only 12 years to take urgent action to cut the risk of extreme heat, drought, floods and poverty.

Nathan continued: “I don’t think they’re doing enough work at all, I wouldn’t be here today if they had taken action.

“It is incredibly scary. And all those generations of young children who have life ahead of them, it’s not right to let them have a bad life.”

Protesters chanted that they wanted ‘climate action now’, while placards read: ‘the seasons are more unpredictable than my period’; ‘make love not emissions’; ‘we need a solution not pollution’; ‘this planet is getting hotter than young Leonardo DiCaprio’ and other tongue-in-cheek slogans.

The Oxford Times:

Maya von Hauenschild, 17, one of the organisers alongside ‘Youth Strike 4 Climate’ activist Ella Mann, said: “I think it’s so amazing how many people have actually turned up — going from a small event that we organised to a huge, huge turnout.

“It just shows it’s a really important subject and how important it is to everyone here.”

The Cheney School pupil continued: “As young people, it’s amazing how many people have left school and decided to come today to show their support because, after all, it is the young people taking a stand and it is our future to fight for so that’s why we’re here.”

The Oxford Times:

MP Ms Moran, who is also the Lib Dems’ education spokesperson, added: “This is amazing, I can’t believe that over 1,000 young people have turned out and what it says to me is how important this is.”

“I want them to know that they are being listened to, that we care, that I agree with them. I am equally frustrated that this government has not been making more time to debate climate change but not just debate, do something about it.”

Oxford’s other MP, Anneliese Dodds, has refused to take sides on the issue.

Some schools warned pupils that they would face punishment for walking out of classes, particularly without parental permission, and one school said unauthorised absences could lead to ‘truancy proceedings’.