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 climate change movement becoming a political one.
Extinction Rebellion has been at the forefront of climate change protesting recently. First year student Tabitha Clarke-Scholes is involved in protesting within London and Norwich, she described her experience with Extinction Rebellion to me and commented that ‘It felt great to advocate 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 asked student third year English Literature student Rebecca Allen if she thought rallies such as Extinction Rebellion can create influential change and Allen replied, ‘Extinction Rebellion has been successful in hitting mainstream media so consistently that there will be repercussions.’ Allen also explained that she thought political movements have always existed, she explained climate change protesting has ‘just moved from the side-lines onto centre stage now.’
Second year English Literature student Maya Coom also provided an opinion about protesting bringing about influential change, Coom stated, ‘I think Extinction Rebellion will bring about influential change due to the power behind the movement and their resilience in the face of the police.’ Coom continued, ‘The impact they have had already in bringing attention to their rebellion has been amazing to see and with people like 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg involved, I can’t imagine the government being able to ignore the issues they are raising any longer.’
It is also really important to not how involved students and younger generations are in protesting. Clarke-Scholes mentioned Greta Thunberg, ‘Greta also attended the rebellion on Sunday and I watched her speech online, she is incredibly brave and strong.’ Thunberg is known for having initiated her school’s strike for climate change in 2018 and many students across the country have travelled far to be involved in the protesting. Clarke Scholes stated that ‘I joined extinction rebellion last week and hope to stay active both in Norwich and London.’ It is clear that Extinction Rebellion and climate change protesting is going to be an uphill struggle on the journey to enforcing lasting change.
Protesting has definitely become more radical recently, semi naked climate change protestors disrupted a Brexit debate in the House of Common’s. The activists spent 20 minutes against the glass about the chamber. MP’s attempted to continue the debate, but remarks were made to the protest in politicians’ speeches.
Clearly the public want our government to be more proactive at 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.