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“It felt good to actually take action, actually be doing something. Just the effect of being on the streets, shouting, getting your voice heard,” exclaimed pink-haired fashion student Blythe Brunt yesterday.

 

By Juno Kelly.

Brunt was speaking at The Youth Climate Change panel; Mission Magazine’s inaugural UK event. The night, hosted by Mission’s Founder and Editor in Chief, Karina Givargisoff and Texas lead singer, Sharleen Spiteri, saw dozens of climate-concerned Londoners gather at Soho Works White City, to discuss all things global warming.

The panel was made up of five trailblazers at the forefront of England’s youth climate movement; Christina Adane, Cyrus Jarvis, Blythe Brunt, Lola Stadlen and Evelyn Layton Niland; who were photographed by Ophelia Wynne (also on the panel) at London’s climate strikes in 2019, for the “Rebels with a Cause” spread in Mission’s Youth issue.

Cyrus Jarvis – one of the movement’s ring leaders, is articulate and outspoken, and kicked off the talk with a candid speech about how schools don’t teach students about the practical measures needed to offset climate change, “the way we’re educated here in this country, they don’t really tell you what the crisis really is. They tell you, ‘turn off your lights, save electricity.’ That might save bills, but it’s not gonna save the planet.”

From left to right: Evelyn Layton, Christina Adane, Sharleen Spiteri, Karina Givargisoff, Ophelia Wynne, Cyrus Jarvis, Lola Stadlen, and Blythe Brunt.

It immediately became clear that the teens are not fooled by ‘greenwashing’ – a term used to describe big corporations misleading clients into thinking their products are environmentally friendly. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos’ $10bn Earth Fund, announced mere days before the panel, served as the prime example, “I think it’s great that he’s donating that much to the environment, but, back in September… Amazon workers went on strike and said that they wanted change in their company and for their company to commit to cutting their carbon emissions, Jeff Bezos said no. It’s basically greenwashed…He could be making a lot of difference by agreeing to cut their carbon emissions and make it a carbon-neutral company, but he doesn’t want to because he’s more interested in his profit…We’re not dumb. We can see what’s going on here,” observed Jarvis.

As can be expected in a room of liberal millennials and Gen Z’s, Britain’s Tory government came up myriad times, most of them met with a contemptuous chortle from the audience, “why would you elect Boris Johnson?!” Jarvis asked. The young activists’ primary request for the British Government is the implementation of the Green New Deal, a set of five principles designed to guide a policy plan that will restructure the British economy, resulting in new jobs and a habitable future.

Despite being wise beyond their years, dropping terms like ‘IPCC reports’ and ‘greenwashing’ as casually as most teenagers say ‘Peach Schnapps’, these Gen Z’s evade the preachy rhetoric that their generation has become renowned for. They understand that climate activism is a privilege: one’s ability to take a stand can be hindered by social and economic inequality, “It’s hard. That’s why I’m not so for individual change because not everyone can afford to do that” remarked Christina Adane.

From left to right: Sharleen Spiteri, Karina Givargisoff, and Ophelia Wynne.

The panel wrapped up with a Q & A, where the panellists addressed how we, as individuals, can change things (cut down on meat and dairy, take trains instead of fly), how they consume the media in an age of fake news (consult multiple sources and cross-reference), and how to adopt a sustainable approach to fashion, (buy vintage/ wear things more than once).

Despite the gravitas of the topic at hand; the evening was uplifting. If our planet is in the hands of youth like this, the future may be brighter than we think.

Photos by: David Owens