Thousands of mothers and their children marched on central London today in a show of solidarity with the global youth strikes inspired by teenage climate change activist Greta Thunberg.
The Mothers Rise Up march began at midday on Park Lane before making its way peacefully to Parliament Square for a rally. "With pushchairs and song we will march to Parliament Square to demand climate action and a future for our children," organisers said ahead of the event.
The event was timed to coincide with International Mother's Day, on which 96 nations across the world pay tribute to mothers and maternal role models. Similar marches took place in other cities in the UK and abroad.
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“We are mothers, we are rising, it's our children you're compromising." . Today, @mothersriseup celebrates #InternationalMothersDay by taking to the streets to demand a safe climate for our children. . . #Signsofthemarch 📸credit: @friends_earth . . #mothersday #mothersriseup #parentsforfuture #savetheearth #motherearth #circulareconomy #recycle #extinctionrebellion #reuseable #sustainableliving #Climatestrike #bansingleuseplastic #plasticbags #FridaysForFuture #ClimateChange #saveouroceans #SaveOurPlanet #savethewhales #plasticwaste #noplastic
Former Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq was among the mothers who addressed crowds at the London rally, the BBC reports. "The reason we are here is because of the youth strikes," Huq said from the podium. "The young people have been putting us to shame and it's time for us adults to take responsibility."
The march was led by a group of eleven 11-year-olds to mark the fact that we now have just 11 years to meet the UN's 2030 deadline for drastically reducing global emissions.
Rosamund Kissi-Debrah, whose nine-year-old daughter Ella died of a fatal asthma attack believed to be linked to illegal levels of air pollution near her south London home, also spoke at the London rally.
"If you deal with air pollution it means you will also deal with climate change," she told crowds at Parliament Square. "Everyone here needs to be bothered about the impact of air pollution. My daughter died a very, very horrible death. If you live near a main road you should be angry. I'm too heartbroken to be angry."
Although London's overall air quality is finally improving, the latest figures found that two million people in the capital are still living with illegal levels of air pollution. Yesterday TfL announced that it has commissioned a new fleet of super-green hydrogen buses in a bid to reduce pollution caused by London's transport network.
Today's Mothers Rise Up march took place just weeks after climate change pressure group Extinction Rebellion occupied four prominent sites in central London: Oxford Circus, Marble Arch, Waterloo Bridge and Parliament Square.
Greta Thunberg visited London during the high-profile occupation, and took the opportunity to condemn the UK for its role in bolstering the fossil fuel industry.
“The UK’s active current support of new exploitation of fossil fuels – for example the UK shale gas fracking industry, the expansion of its North Sea oil and gas fields, the expansion of airports, as well as the planning permission for a brand new coal mine – is beyond absurd," Thunberg said in a powerful speech.
"This ongoing irresponsible behaviour will no doubt be remembered in history as one of the greatest failures of humankind."