By Charlotte Owen
For more than a year now, young people in the UK and beyond have been striking every Friday to demand that world leaders take decisive action on climate change. What began as Greta Thunberg’s single-person protest has now grown into a global youth movement demanding to be heard. Frustrated by slow progress in the face of an escalating crisis, they are now calling on people of all ages to join them in a Global Climate Strike this Friday 20 September. Their message is clear: this is a climate emergency, and we must act accordingly.
It can often seem that climate change is happening ‘somewhere else’ but we’re already feeling the impacts here in the UK. This July was the hottest month ever recorded and we’ve experienced drought, flooding and extreme weather. Wildlife is feeling the heat too. In Sussex, we are seeing shifting species ranges and changes in the annual timing of events in nature’s calendar, from the flowering of plants and trees to the migration of birds and butterflies. The knock-on impacts of these changes are affecting food availability and breeding success at a time when our wildlife is already struggling. The situation is so severe that the UK government declared a Climate Emergency in May this year - but without urgent and meaningful change to ‘business as usual’ we could see catastrophic climate breakdown within our lifetimes.
It’s clear that our young people have something to shout about, and it’s time to accelerate action on the climate crisis. Beyond drastically cutting our carbon emissions, it’s vital that we restore the natural environment at a landscape scale. Our reedbeds, underwater kelp forests, meadows and woodlands can lock away carbon and reduce the impacts of climate change, while giving wildlife the space it needs to recover and thrive.
To make sure this happens, we are calling for a new Environment Act to put nature’s recovery at the heart of public policy and law across Britain.
To add your voice to our Wilder Future campaign, visit sussexwildlifetrust.org.uk/wildersussex – where you’ll also find a range of positive, peaceful and practical ways you can contribute to our planet’s future at this crucial time.