On Saturday (January 15), protest group Youth Climate Swarm will take action on the streets of Bristol.
Having first emerged in London in December, Youth Climate Swarm activists use the tactic of swarming, or repeatedly blocking roads for short periods of time, to cause disruption and publicise their demands.
In Bristol, the activists, all young people under the age of 30, hope to pressure national government into action on the climate crisis, and to target Bristol City Council, who they accuse of failing to deliver on their promise of free public transport for 16- to 18-year-olds, as set out in the council’s own One City Plan.
The action is coordinated by Bristol Youth Strike for Climate, who have previously orchestrated mass school walk-outs, demonstrations and actions across Bristol.
Below, Bristol’s Youth Climate Swarm activists explain why they’re taking action and what they hope to achieve.
Are you shitting yourself?
You should be. This last year we saw 49°C in Sicily – the highest temperature ever in Europe. In California four years ago, two per cent of the state burned down – the highest ever, and then just two years later four per cent of the whole state burned down.
We have even seen rain instead of snow descend on the summit of a rapidly melting Greenland. Germany has seen its worst flooding ever, an event made nine times more likely due to the climate crisis.
While we could go on, we suspect you get the idea we’re trying to make. The situation is bleak at 1.2℃ and we are on track to at least double that. It’s time to get real serious about the climate crisis real quick.
It is at this point where the Youth Climate Swarms have emerged. On the 11th of December young people swarmed the streets of London stopping traffic. Feeling outraged that our government is sending us all to our deaths via their platform on inaction they decided that enough was enough and took action.
The Campaign platform has three key demands:
Just stop oil
The UK government is opening up new oil fields in the north sea like the Cambo oil field. There are 40 others in the pipeline, and in a climate situation where we have no carbon budget left stopping the creation of new oil fields is a complete no-brainer.
Demanding that the government insulate all housing in the UK because it is, per pound of investment, the most cost-effective way to reduce emissions; it will create hundreds of thousands of jobs and will end fuel poverty which kills over 8,000 people every year.
The use of public transport would bring down our emissions and improve our lives. It makes public transport accessible to all, we must stamp out transport fees. It’s a no brainer – the money is there, it’s just not profitable for oil companies
In fact, when we bring the free transport demand into some local context, our city leadership in Bristol have promised free public transport for 16- to 18-year-olds in 2021 as part of the one city plan. 2021 has passed yet there is no free travel for 16- to 18-year-olds.
In the 2021 Labour mayoral manifesto, Marvin Rees promised free public transport for students and apprentices, yet again we are presented with no evidence that this will ever be implemented.
It is in this context of both local and national inaction that youth are mobilising in Bristol for January the 15th.
A quick explanation of our tactic, swarming. For those that are unaware, swarming is where a group of people temporarily block roads repeatedly for short periods of time at regular intervals. The reason we use swarming specifically as a tactic is that it can include everyone and no one is put at risk of arrest due to how flexible the tactic is.
But for now, if you are under 30 and this sounds like something that you would be interested in joining then come down and to the action this Saturday at Queen square where we will be starting promptly at 12pm.
If you want to find out some more information about this campaign go to our Instagram or our website. If you are also interested in going a step further than just coming along on the day, we have an open organising structure meaning that anyone who is interested in helping organise is welcome to come along to our meetings.
In the words of Sir David King, former chief scientific advisor to the UK government: ‘We have to move quickly. What we do over the next three to four years, I believe, is going to determine the future of humanity.’
Feature image show Bristol Youth Strike for Climate at last November’s COP26 Day of Action march. Image: James Ward.