IN RESPONSE to the Echo’s February 10 article about Southampton’s Youth Strike taking place this Friday February 15, we feel that the point of the action has been greatly missed.

Extinction Rebellion agrees that education is fundamental to all our futures. We fully support the fantastic teachers in the area and all those championing environmental concerns in our schools. However, it’s disappointing some have misunderstood the event’s purpose – focusing on one day of missed formal education rather than the wider, more serious issue.

From David Attenborough to the UN, many agree with the scientific consensus that drastic changes must be taken now, if we are to avoid the devastating impacts of climate change. This will greatly impact our city. Southampton City Council acknowledges this, yet continues making contradictory planning decisions. This weakens all of us by letting down the current population and harming the next generation.

The best thing we can do for our children is ensure they have a future.

We do not invite students to miss school or college lightly but we are at a critical stage. Young people shouldn’t have to be taking action, yet due to the inaction of others, they feel they have no choice.

We hope many will join us for a few hours of peaceful demonstration in Guildhall Square at 11am to tell those who serve us that enough is enough. If you are a student worried about the future, this event is for you. If you are a parent looking to give your child the brightest future you can, this event is for you. If you’re a Southampton resident worried about your city’s future, this event is for you. Please come and support the community.

Youth Strikes are a growing, global movement. They are led by 16-year-old student Greta Thunberg, who recently told world leaders that it is pointless to go to school to learn science when devastating climate science reports are being ignored. Last November, thousands of children walked out of school in Australia and 20,000 students took part in strikes in Belgium, Switzerland and Germany last month. This Friday, it is the turn of students in the UK and Sweden.

In Southampton, Extinction Rebellion’s goal is to highlight a toxic system of short-sighted decision making by local and national government, which fails to promote the health of the city’s inhabitants. We also wish to challenge those in power who don’t take into account the importance of the environment as our home, and the need for its protection for our survival, given the accepted – and frankly scary – climate predictions.

The article suggested that the Youth Strike would create a negative ripple effect. The only ripple we intend to create is that of a fairer, healthier and sustainable future for everyone in Southampton. Like you, we love our city and want it to remain prosperous and healthy, now and in our children’s future

In solidarity with our community,

Southampton Extinction Rebellion