Long Reads

19 women on why they joined the fight against global warming

19 inspiring women who took part in the world’s biggest global climate strike share their thoughts on climate change, global warming and the action we urgently need to take in order to save our planet.

The global climate strike on 20 September saw millions of people from 150 countries across the world stand together in protest against global warming.

The strike, organised by 16-year-old climate change activist Greta Thunberg, was the first of its kind. It saw people of all ages take to the streets with banners, megaphones and their loudest voices, with roads blocked in cities across the world, from London to Berlin, and Melbourne to New York.

Thought to be the biggest ever, it was the first time that adults have joined children and teenagers in their weekly protests against climate change.

You may also like

Global climate strike: Everything you need to know about today’s protest

Stylist headed to the London arm of the strike to meet the women and teenagers taking a stand to save the planet. You can hear what they had to say below…

Katherine, 17, and Eleni, 18, both from London

global warming

We’re here to show the world how much we care about the planet, and to protest the lack of policy change. Something needs to happen. We know it’s really difficult to come up with the right policy, but big businesses need to start thinking about change.

Fatima, 30, from Lisbon

When it comes to climate change, people just need to show up. It’s great to see so many kids here, but the teachers should be out marching with them, too. This is so important – it’s the most important thing that’s happening in the world right now. So there should be more people here.

Emma, 26, Portia, and Hannah, 30

climate strike teens

E: “We’ve got to all come together and make small changes. Small actions will make big changes and have an impact. Don’t let the idea of ‘perfect’ get in the way of doing good. The government needs to get out whatever stick is up their ass and use it to fight climate change.” 

P: “Also, the government needs to ban plastic. Ban what is bad.”   

Jenna, Indi and Mia, all 18 from Guildford

climate protest

We’re here to help support the world. It’s good there are so many people here because that shows how important it is. The government needs to make climate change a much bigger priority – they should spend less time debating Brexit and more time saving the planet. That’s what we need.

Julia, 26, from London

I really believe in climate change. I don’t think we’re doing enough to stop it. The government needs to be tougher on things like the congestion charge in London. It needs to listen more to what we say. Other people are listening to us all around the world now, so why aren’t they?

Sarah Jane and Hesther, both 16

climate strike

SJ: “We’re both very passionate about our environment and our future. We’re both really passionate about this. This is my third climate strike.” 

HS: “We just want parliament to… fuck off.” 

SJ: “I’m vegan, she’s vegetarian. I really think that animal agriculture and the food industry is the leading cause in climate change and the fact that it’s not being addressed is really, really terrifying. The transportation sector impact on climate change is only like 12% and animal agriculture is like 23-50%, and it’s just shocking that it’s not being addressed.That’s what we need to do.”

Imam and Freya, both 23

climate protest

IW: “We are basically going extinct. If we carry on like this, it will happen. It’s the generations after us who will be most affected and I don’t want my great, great, great, grand children to be… well, dead.” 

FE: “The world will always change and adapt but we are killing ourselves. I don’t think people really realise the catastrophe we are facing here. Eco is something I massively think about. 

“When I was at university, I did a project on plastic bottles in the ocean and the statistics and data was so scary that I had to keep taking time out. I’m trying to do research and talk about this. We should be scared about it because it’s a really big deal.”   

IW: “The people in power are being idiots so I would tell them to be sensible and actually think about what you are doing because you have a massive influence on what people do and how they do it.”

Daisy, 19, Hannah, 19, and Rachel, 18

climate change

D: “We’re here to show that young people do care about politics.” 

R: “I think we should be focusing on renewable energy. I know at the moment the government is preoccupied with Brexit, but it really should be a priority” 

H: “And [the action] should be a collaboration with other countries and nations, we should come together as a world rather than an individual island.” 

D: “I would tell the worlds leaders: don’t underestimate young people and our views. Just because we haven’t been to university yet or worked for 20 years doesn’t mean that we don’t understand what’s going on, or care about it. I think people underestimate us and think that we shouldn’t have a say because we don’t have much experience.”   

D: “I’d say shut up and listen… oh, and there should be a people’s vote!”

Ilga, 41, from Latvia but has lived in the UK for 15 years

climate

“This is my first strike ever. I joined in reluctantly but there’s no choice - this is the time. I’m striking because I’m a Mum and a teacher.

“I was supposed to be at school today and I took unpaid leave. The other teachers are in denial about climate change. While they didn’t say anything negative about me striking, I felt that the comments were kind of silent.

“I think policy makers are the ones who make a difference. We can try and recycle and so on, but it won’t be enough. Fuel companies need to make it possible for ordinary people to get access to things like electric cars.”

Maddy, 19, from Wales but living in London

strike

“I think the people at the top need to realise that we’re not going to stop. They need to change and I don’t think there’s a better way to tell them than with a strike. They’re not listening and it’s already too late, but we still have time to make a change.

“To stop climate change, I think we should start taxing carbon dioxide emissions and banning the use of fossil fuels. We can do quite a good job in the UK but it’s global issue and that’s the problem.

“I think the government is scared to do something , there’s no easy way to make an impact and so they don’t want to fail, but they need to do what they can - which we’re definitely not.”

Rosie, 45, and sonny, 12, from London

protest

“I’m striking both for my kids and for all of our kids. They’re growing up in the most dangerous, worrying, stressful time. We should have acted yesterday.

“The government needs to act because it’s not enough to expect individuals to make choices that will have a big scale impact. We can’t all afford to take trains when flying is cheaper, we can’t all afford to shop locally and organically. It needs to come from the top. We need to think bigger and act now.

“I think the government should start subsiding more alternative fuels, subsiding cleaner transport and taking money from the wealthiest people like billionaires and putting it into investment in greener infrastructure.”

Main image: Getty

Other words and images: Sarah Biddlecombe, Hollie Richardson and Megan Murray