Senedd backing for the “Fridays for Future” movement; less support for “climate strikes”

(Title Image: Emma Eigee via Wales Online)

The Motion (Amended/Final Version)

The Senedd:

  • Supports the call of the Fridays for Future movement for all politicians and business leaders to listen to young people because their determination, their ideas and their efforts are urgently needed to bring about a low carbon Wales.
  • Applauds the role that students and young people have played in bringing the climate emergency to the attention of policymakers and the public.
  • Welcomes the commitment from Welsh Government to introduce votes for 16-and-17-years-olds in time for the 2021 Welsh General Election, giving those young people a stronger voice.

Not just skipping school

Students around the world are set to take part in a series of walk-outs on 20th September, with many events expected to take place around Wales. Llyr Gruffydd AM (Plaid, North Wales) said the timing was significant as it was happening at the same time as a major UN climate summit.

“….the political narrative around climate change has been transformed. Indeed, the terminology has changed. We’re not saying ‘climate change‘ now – we are now recognising it as a climate emergency.”
– Llyr Gruffydd AM

Dr Hefin David AM (Lab, Caerphilly) said we all had to understand where this was coming from; young people were not only frustrated but were afraid about what the future might bring. Lowering the voting age so younger people have a voice and are listened to was part of the solution.

“How many times in this Chamber have we sat here, wanting to get more young people involved in politics? Sometimes….we can’t make then come forward to us with opinions, and then they come out, and we’re going, ‘Oh my God, isn’t it awful that little Johnny’s left school because they’ve come out and have an opinion on something?…. Let’s patronise them instead and say, ‘Well, let’s go and sit in a room with them and ask them what they think, but let’s not really listen; let’s just go away and pretend that we’ve listened and then we’re all okay and we can go back to what we’ve always done and ignore them.'”
– Bethan Sayed AM (Plaid, South Wales West)

Yes; skipping school

Shadow Environment Minister, Andrew RT Davies AM (Con, South Wales Central), asked for AMs to “pause and reflect” on what condoning school walk-outs might mean. He quoted a caller to a radio show who said anyone not taking part in a climate strike was a climate change denier – which might build peer pressure to take part in something they don’t want to do even if they support the message.

“….instead of calling for disruptive action within the school setting, let us empower young people to actually engage in the journey that the whole of society—the whole of society—needs to take, and make sure that they stay part of this journey, because, ultimately, it will be every sector of society that will benefit from a better, cleaner environment that has climate change at its heart….”
– Shadow Environment Minister, Andrew RT Davies AM

Mark Reckless AM (BXP, South Wales East) didn’t support strikes of any kind as they were a sense of failure. While he was convinced on some measure of human impact on the climate it was, of course, the EU’s fault by encouraging a switch from petrol to diesel. The scale of the transformation needs to be properly addressed through sensible policies, not simply resort to “virtue-signalling”.

We’re listening

Environment, Energy & Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths (Lab, Wrexham), was often left impressed by some of the knowledge younger people, including primary-age children, have about the effects of climate change.

The Minister neither condoned or condemned the climate strikes, but said everyone had to listen:

“We must remember we also have a responsibility to represent those children and young people who do not choose to strike. That is why our Government amendment to the motion reflects the central call of the Fridays for Future campaign for all politicians and business leaders to listen to what children and young people have to say about climate change.”
– Environment, Energy & Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths

Vote

For the record, Russell George AM (Con, Montgomery) voted against.

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