Over 1,200 protesters took to the streets and beaches of St. Andrews on Friday to demand action against global climate change in what Scottish Liberal Democrats Leader, Willie Rennie, called “the largest demonstration in St Andrews in twenty, thirty, forty years.”
Organised as part of the Global Climate Strike, students and activists of all ages skipped classes, work, and other obligations to march through the streets of St Andrews and form a massive human chain at West Sands Beach, a “line in the sand” against inaction over an impending climate crisis.
A crowd of nearly two hundred assembled in St Salvator’s Quad an hour before the event, where organisers spoke about the vital importance of combating climate change and led the raucous crowd in a series of chants which would echo through the streets for hours to come:
“Whose planet? Our planet!”
“No coal, no oil, keep your carbon in the soil!”
“What do we want? Action! When do we want it? Now!”
The protesters marched through North Street and Market Street before congregating on West Sands Beach, where hundreds of town residents, activists and children had already assembled.
Before the assembled crowd, Lorna Milne, Deputy Principal of the University, congratulated the students for having the courage and conviction to march against climate change, imploring them to be the ones to solve the massive issue before them.
“Think of yourselves as the people who are changing the patterns, which are due to trends for which you are not responsible, but which you will inherit. We’re counting on you to do that for us.”
Stephen Gethins, MP for North East Fife, spoke of his work on the all-party Parliamentary Climate Change Group and declared that climate change “has to be the number one political priority now.”
The assembled protesters roared with approval at the speakers’ declarations of the importance of fighting climate change and taking political action against environmental changes.
The protesters then observed a five-minute period of silence as they formed a seemingly-infinite wall stretching down the shore. Side by side, they stood facing the rising sea, reflecting on the threat the world faces and their own responsibility in stopping it.
There was no face of the protest. Rather, it was made up of the widest variety of concerned citizens: middle-aged activists toting cribs and colorful signs, college students marching three-across with classmates and young children fighting for their own future.
They came for many reasons. An elderly couple The Saint spoke to talked about wanting to guarantee a safer, healthier future for their two small children, one of whom carried a cardboard sign reading “Save our Planet.”
Others talked about showing leading political figures that the public would not stand for inaction in the face of an impending climate catastrophe.
Yet, others talked about feeling a sense of responsibility, a duty to future generations and to the world itself to fight against practices that threaten to harm it.
Nicholas Podell, a first-year student marching in the strike, told The Saint, “Someday, I will have to look at my child, my grandchild and I don’t want to have them tell me, “You knew, and you did nothing.”