The global Climate Strike 2019 took place today (September 20) with Surrey residents joining estimated millions of others worldwide to demand drastic action on the climate crisis.

The international general strike was organized off the back of school children, inspired by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, striking on Fridays under the ‘Fridays For Future’ and ‘School Strike for Climate’ slogans.

As can be typical for many who live within the boundaries of the M25, North East Surrey felt the gravitational pull of London strongly.

Many of those supporting the climate strike from the region headed in to the capital to join an estimated 100,000 people marching through the city centre.  

Your Local Guardian: climate strike 2019

One of the people coordinating this was Tariq Shabbeer, a long-time environmental campaigner from New Malden who has supported the Fridays for Future movement since it rose to prominence.

Tariq helped organize dozens of Kingstonian campaigners attending the London demonstration, which witnessed thousands gather on Milbank and Parliament Square to demand the adoption of more radical environmental policies and an end to carbon emissions.

“It was a great day,” he told the Comet.

“At the Environment Centre (KEC) we’ve had inquiries all day and we’re so glad there has been such a big turnout at the march to put climate change at the top of the agenda,” Mr Shabeer said, referencing the well-known hub for environmental campaigners in Kingston and New Malden.

Indeed, KEC directly helped facilitate people in the area getting involved with the strike action.

KEC Manager and Campaigner Jean Bidler was one of those to journey from Surrey into central London for Friday’s massive march.

“It was very moving today. There were thousands of young people there alongside their teachers and parents and it was a very good showing.

“We want to show solidarity with the youth climate strike,” she said of the Kingstonian contingent’s attendance.

While the adults played their part, it was children who were central to the day’s proceedings.

After all, striking on Fridays for the climate was their idea in the first place.

One of the Surrey schoolchildren supporting Friday’s strike was Amy, a sixth form student and Greenpeace supporter from Banstead who goes to school in the area.

“I wanted to get involved because it’s my future and it can be scary when I’m trying to think about what I want to do with my life and it almost feels hopeless when you don’t know if there’s going to be a future for you to do all that,” she said.

“A lot of the young people I know are really concerned for the future and we want to make it good and not filled with climate disasters,” she added.

Like the UK government, Amy’s school was not supportive of the climate strike and this made it difficult for her to join in with the Friday’s actions directly.

She decided to make an impact on the day by speaking out about climate change instead.

“We don’t really see the consequences here in England too much but climate change is already impacting the poorest people around the world who have little enough as it is and that’s not fair.

“A lot of blame gets thrown at the individual, when it’s actually big companies who are responsible for the majority of carbon emissions,” she pointed out.  

Like Tariq and others, Amy cited Extinction Rebellion (XR)’s planned mass civil disobedience in October as the next big date in the UK calendar for the climate justice movement.

She hopes to be more directly involved in the forthcoming actions.

So too does Kingston Green Party Councillor Sharron Sumner, who expressed her on-going support for the Fridays for Future strikes and echoed others from the region who said that more climate actions in the immediate area, without the need to go into central London, would be welcome.

“Lots of Green Party members from Kingston attended today and I’m totally supportive of it.

“I want to encourage more locally. We have a large population here and I’ll be joining the future strikes.

“I’d love to see schools get involved even it was a mini strike for just half an hour and I hope next time all the schools in the area will support it,” she said.

“All of the data we’re getting shows that we are approaching that tipping point for the climate, so change can’t wait. It has to happen now,” Cllr Sumner added.