Youth-led Climate Movements: Driving Change in the UK | Rock & Art

Youth-led Climate Movements: Driving Change in the UK

Climate change is a reality, and it’s unstoppable. But actions to reduce its effects on our home—Planet Earth—are crucial. Since the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, individual youth participation in climate concerns has been active. The European Youth Forum, established in 1996, marked the beginning of youth-run organisations sending delegations to worldwide negotiations.

The UK adopted the movement 12 years later, creating the UK Youth Climate Coalition (UKYCC) in June 2008. Currently, youth-led climate movement organisations are on the rise. Rock & Art (R&A) presents UK youth-led organisations, their actions, and how to get involved to help mitigate climate change.

Youth-led Climate Change Organisations in the UK

Various organisations in the UK support youth-led climate movements, such as the UK Youth Climate Coalition (UKYCC). An in-depth examination of these will help you understand their mission, activities, campaigns, and projects. This will provide a clear picture of the past, present, and future and how they drive change in the UK at a regional, national, and global level.  

Edible Campus: Sustainable Eating 

Edible Campus is a student-based society created by Lancaster University that showcases sustainability practices in food production and consumption. Their primary action site for driving climate change awareness in the UK is the ECOHub opposite Lonsdale College.

To get involved, one can attend their action days on Wednesdays and Saturdays between 13:00 and 16:00. Volunteers engage in tasks such as sowing seeds, transplanting seedlings, weeding, and harvesting. During these hours, the Edible Campus members welcome volunteers to get their hands dirty through typical action day jobs, including sowing seeds, transplanting seedlings, weeding and harvesting.

In addition, during term time, they have a market stall to sell freshly harvested Edible Campus produce and a wide range of organic grocery goods, such as jams and cordials. But, hand-dirty volunteers are entitled to harvest veggies for free.

For more information about this youth-led agricultural project based on the fundamental principle of minimal environmental impact, access their website or follow them via their social media pages on Facebook and Instagram

Fridays For Future: Striker Activists 

Fridays For Future is a global youth-led movement initiated in August 2018. For three weeks, 15-year-old Greta Thunberg and other young activists sat in front of the Swedish parliament every school day to protest the lack of action on the climate crisis.

Currently, 7,500 cities and 14 million people worldwide are involved. In the UK, youth-led climate striker activists are in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales. The website provides a set of practices for learning how to strike, from getting started to alternatives to physical strikes.

There are various options to get involved, such as registering a strike, checking via the map of action for strikes across the UK, and signing petitions. Fridays For Future basic demands are three based on the Declaration of Lausanne in August 2019, where 400 climate activists from 38 countries demanded:

  1. Keep the global temperature rise below 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels.
  2. Ensure climate justice and equity.
  3. Listen to the best-united science currently available. 

Access the website to participate in the UK’s Fridays For Future youth-led strike climate activist movement.

Green Lancaster: Future Sustainability Leaders

Almost 25 years have passed since the creation of Green Lancaster (2005), a University and Students’ Union partnership focused on promoting activities to raise awareness and engage with Lancaster students on sustainability issues.

Their core values are embedded in building relationships to ensure Lancaster University does what it can to create a thriving natural environment, reduce carbon emissions and create future sustainability leaders. 

May events where you can get involved are:

  • 8 May — Sunflower planting with Bowland College
  • 14 May — RSPB Leighton Moss – ECOWild Fieldtrip
  • 17 May — Tree Planting ECOWild Session
  • 24 May — ECOWild: Wild Wellbeing
  • 29 May — SOS-UK Student Sustainability Summit

Access the website for more details about the Green Lancaster youth-led climate movement. 

Mock COP: Educating Sustainability 

As part of SOS (Students Organisation for Sustainability) UK, Mock COP began its youth-led climate movement in 2020 with their Mock COP26 conference. Students from the Teach the Future campaign looked for ways to influence the outcomes of COP26 by seeking further commitments to support the provision of universal, scientific climate education.

The youth-led organisation drives change in the UK through volunteering sign-ups, creating blogs and social media content, organising webinars and sharing successes of youth lobbying. Other ways in which Mock COP takes action is through Teach The Teacher sessions that start climate conversations at schools. Teach The Parent, offering climate education via informal discussions that inspire action towards a more climate- and environment-friendly lifestyle.

To learn more about how to take action and Mock COP work, visit the website here

Teach the Future: Broaden the Climate Curriculum 

Teach the Future is a youth-led organisation based in the UK that empowers students to improve education on climate emergencies and ecological crises. The campaigns were first initiated in England in October 2019 and spread throughout the UK: Scotland in July 2020, Wales in February 2021, and Northern Ireland in March 2022. 

The campaign focuses on preparing students to face the effects of climate change and helping them understand the causes and solutions. They believe that the climate crisis is only briefly taught in a couple of optional subjects, and they’ve found that often, where it is taught, it’s not done to high enough standards. 

Currently, the campaign is led by a team of over 40 young volunteers who are advised by an adult advisory board and supported by the charity SOS-UK. To get involved in the campaigns in the UK, there are several actions, such as:

  • Volunteering — Creating social media content, planning campaign strategies, meeting with elected reps, fundraising, writing blog posts, communicating with supporting organisations and speaking at events.
  • Write to your rep. Using the Teach the Future pre-filled form, you can easily ask your elected representatives if they support climate education.
  • Sign the petition — Ask the government to implement broad climate education.

Start to get involved with Teach the Future here.

UK Youth Climate Coalition (UKYCC): Pioneering the Change in the UK

The UK Youth Climate Coalition (UKYCC) is a non-profit organisation with a mission to “mobilise and empower young people to take positive action for global climate justice.” To achieve this, it has, since 2008, involvement in activities such as: 

  • 2008 — Participating in the 2008 National Climate March organised by the Campaign Against Climate Change.
  • 2009— Organising the Power Shift event in London, designed to train and support young people working within their local communities.  
  • 2010 — Participating in the UK Youth Parliament with coalition partners Oxfam, Plan UK and UNICEF.
  • 2011 — Participating in climate negotiations in Durban and South Africa.
  • 2012–2023 — Participating in Conference of the Parties (COP).
  • 2013— Set up a petition to stop the proposal to remove climate change from the Geography national curriculum for under-14s. 70,000 signatures forced the policy to be dropped.

Their latest action took place in 2023: They created a podcast called From the Ground Up, in which they talk to youth climate activists about the issues that are important to them and what gives them hope in the face of the climate crisis. 

To be part of the UKYCC pledge, start here

The People Behind the Youth-led Climate Movement in the UK

Now, let’s put some faces to the youth-led climate movement. Young, educated and vibrant minds stand firm and represent the drivers of change for a greener and sustainable UK. 

Youth-led Climate Movements: Driving Change in the UK | Rock & Art

Amiteshwar Singh: The Health Advocate to Climate Change 

Climate Movements

Amiteshwar Singh is a 22-year-old student doctor and writer based in Norwich. He’s part of the leading Mock COP team, and before this, he was involved in the climate justice movement as a co-founder of the People’s Health Hearing and the Youth Climate and Health Network. 

He’s co-authored ´Reflections from COP28: Resisting Healthwashing in Climate Change Negotiations’, which you can read here.

Dominique Palmer: Cultural Shift Through Creativity and Art

Dominique Palmer has been a Climate Justice Activist since 2019, organising the September 2019 climate strikes, which brought 300,000 people onto the streets in the UK and inspired people worldwide to take climate action. 

Climate Movements - Dominique Palmer

Her involvement as a face of the youth-led climate movement has taken her to the stage alongside changemakers and figures such as Emma Watson, Malala, Billie Eilish, Greta Thunberg, Mary Robinson, Naomi Klein, Simon Kofe and Vanessa Nakate.

This involvement in being a driver of change in the UK and beyond has been acknowledged by the likes of the Planetary Health Award by the Prince Albert II Foundation and Forbes 2020 Top UK Environmentalists List.  

Learn more about Dominique Palmer’s actions for climate change here

Mikaela Loach: Climate Justice Activist and Soft Black Girl

Mikaela Loach is the best-selling author of ‘It’s Not That Radical: Climate Action To Transform Our World’, a climate justice activist, and co-host of The YIKES Podcast. Her influence as a climate movement youth leader in the UK peaked in 2020, as Forbes, Global Citizen, and BBC Woman’s Hour named her one of the most influential women in the UK climate movement. 

Her work focuses on the intersections of the climate crisis with oppressive systems and making the climate movement a more accessible space. As a renowned activist speaker, you can find her at:

  • OXFORD UNI — Climate Justice: Creating Compassionate, Equitable, and Actionable Solutions to the Climate, May 9.
  • Bristol – It’s Not That Radical Paperback Tour, June 11.
  • Brighton Book Festival — Interrupted, June 23.

To get more details about Mikaela, visit her website here.

The Climate Movement Drive in the UK is Youth-strong 

We conclude this article knowing climate change isn’t a lost cause, thanks to the fantastic work done by many local, regional and national youth-led organisations. It isn’t an orphan either, as it has many sisters and brothers fighting for its right to be a fundamental part of the UK’s political, social and educational programmes.

The international agreement corroborates the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted at the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Summit on 25 September 2015. The agenda, signed by the UN’s 193 sovereign states, includes 17 core Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), of which 13 are Climate Action.  

There’s still much to do, but the energy-driven young British society is and will stubbornly work to drive change in the UK. Climate change success starts from local victories, which spread nationally and globally. Time isn’t on our side but with a youth-led stronghold on the crucial importance climate change has on the UK and the Earth’s present and future, it looks like time will be on our side, just on time.