John McDonnell urges students to act on climate change

At the launch of Climate Change Learning Week, shadow chancellor calls on students to change the mindset of politicians

Kate Parker

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has urged students to mobilise on climate change

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has urged students across the country to mobilise and change the mindset of politicians on climate change.

Speaking at the launch of the national Climate Change Learning Week at City and Islington College this morning, Mr McDonnell said that it was everyone’s job to convince climate change deniers to act alongside the nation in tackling the crisis. 

He said: “Even today there are a number of people who deny climate change. I sometimes go through the process of arguing with them, but I just say to them, 'If you deny climate change, that’s up to you, but I do not want to take that risk. It’s better to ensure that we take the action now that could protect us in the future.'”

Background: UCU calls on colleges to let staff join climate strike

Opinion: How (and why) I became a climate change teacher

News: Colleges and universities to launch climate commission

Climate Change Learning Week

The Climate Change Learning Week has been organised by the Capital City Colleges Group (CCCG) with the support of the NEU teaching union, the University and Colleges Union, the National Union of Students and Tes. 

Its aim is to encourage schools, colleges and universities to take part in a range of activities involving staff and students working together across subject areas to discuss, debate and develop solutions to climate change. 

Mr Donnell used the launch to call for systemic change. He said: “We all need to participate in solving that problem. This week is part of that, bringing people together to talk about the issues we face, the decisions that we need to take and the actions that we need then to deliver. 

“This is happening across the country. This is a huge initiative spread out across the colleges and schools, and what’s happening out there across the country is people are saying, 'We cannot go on like this any more – we’ve got to change. '“

'Civilisation as we know it'

Roy O'Shaughnessy, chief executive of CCCG, compared climate change to the coronavirus outbreak, and said that the fallout would be much worse. 

He said: “China has literally locked itself down because 900 people have died.  It is true that if the coronavirus went unchecked across the world it would have a massive impact. But that impact is tiny compared with what will happen if we don’t think beyond our current measures on climate control, and how we are going to reverse that. If the bees die, society and civilisation as we know it dies.

“I have got a very simple appeal to you, the students. We are entirely in your hands. The future is in your hands, none of you individually or collectively have the solution today, but by working together you will have that solution. If we continue thinking this is a side issue and life can continue as normal, we have already destined the future to be far, far bleaker than anything we can imagine.” 

More information on Climate Change Learning Week can be found here. 

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Kate Parker

Kate Parker is a FE reporter.

Find me on Twitter @KateeParker

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