ILKLEY Grammar School students were among hundreds who missed school to protest against climate change on Friday, March 15.

They were taking part in the Youth Strike 4 Climate movement in an attempt to highlight the issues faced by the planet and the lack of government action in regards to these problems.

Over 1.4 million students from countries such as Australia, South Africa, Belgium and the USA all participated in the mass protest.

It was estimated that around 750 students attended the protest in Leeds city centre which took place outside the town hall. The students listened to speeches by influential young people and local politicians before marching around the streets of Leeds to bring the issue to the attention of the general public.

Among the protesters in Leeds, were around ten students from Ilkley Grammar School who all felt that missing a day of their education was worth it to show their support for the cause.

Robbie Matthews, a student currently in Year 12 at Ilkley Grammar School said: “More than anyone, the younger generation will have to live with the consequences of a climate crisis, therefore, I feel it is very important for me and other students at IGS to make our voices heard.”

The protest follows a first strike which took place on February 15. As a direct result of the initial strike an Eco-Committee has been established at Ilkley Grammar School. A number of staff and students have come together to try combat the issues within the school and empower pupils to lead change and make a positive difference. One of the schools main aims is to reduce energy consumption which they are hoping to achieve with the installation of energy efficient windows and LED lightbulbs which will reduce the energy consumption on lighting by up to 70 per cent. Other initiatives include the reduction of plastic based products in the canteens and the introduction of new recycling bins.

The international Youth Strike 4 Climate movement, which was started by 16 year old Greta Thunburg from Sweden, aims to encourage the Government to declare a climate emergency and prioritise the protection of life on earth as well as communicating with the general public the severity of the ecological crisis. It also aims to reform the national curriculum to address the ecological crisis as an educational priority.

While the protests have been met with some opposition from media and politicians there has been an overwhelming positive response from parents and teachers alike in Ilkley with local groups such as Climate Action Ilkley and Wharfedale Tackles Plastics showing their support.

* Report by Hattie O’Looney, Ilkley Grammar School student