'We can’t afford to stand by and do nothing’: 10 everyday heroes fighting to save the planet

(The Guardian, 14 Mar 2019) Schoolchildren around the world are joining a global strike against climate change this week. But they’re not the only everyday people inspired to take action. We talk to 10 UK activists on the frontline of our most serious environmental issues.

Chay Harwood, Swindon

Extinction Rebellion is an environmental direct action group

If you had told me a few years ago that I would be involved in an environmental movement, I would have thought you were joking. I was far more interested in social inequality and minority rights. But I came to realise that the environment crisis is the biggest threat to us all, and it is people from my background – more disadvantaged, ethnic minority – who are going to bear the brunt of what is coming.

The environment is often seen as a white, middle-class issue, while people from my demographic have other things to worry about, such as putting food on the table and paying the bills. But I went along to the first Extinction Rebellion meetings and found that they were organised and people were prepared to do what it takes to make a change: sleeping on office floors, working until 4am, or running around London in the rain, blocking roads – all of which I have done.

Being part of that is incredibly inspiring – after a successful action, you can really feel the electricity in the room. But it is also emotionally draining. I was involved in the swarming protests blocking roads, and I saw that we were making life harder for people who were just trying to get to work. But when I raised that point, my voice was heard, and so we are working hard to take actions that only directly impact the elite, who are complicit in creating environmental harm .

We have a huge movement building towards Rebellion Day on 15 April and it is incredibly exciting to see it come together. I want to let people know that this is their fight too. Climate justice is tied up with fights for equality and our wider rights – if we don’t take this on, then everything else will be lost. We cannot afford to stand by and do nothing. MT

External link

The Guardian, 14 Mar 2019: 'We can’t afford to stand by and do nothing’: 10 everyday heroes fighting to save the planet