Glasgow teenager Erin Curtis at Westminster calling for a Green New Deal

Hundreds of young people attend a recent YouthStrike4Climate rally in George Square, Glasgow.
Hundreds of young people attend a recent YouthStrike4Climate rally in George Square, Glasgow.

Glasgow teenager Erin Curtis met with leaders of Westminster’s political parties earlier this week for a climate roundtable to discuss ways forward in addressing the climate crisis.

Only recently, Erin (15) took to the BBC Conservative Party leadership debate to hold contenders to account on their climate plans and subsequently went viral with tens of thousands of tweets devoted to her questioning.

Among those attending the roundtable included Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, Green party MP Caroline Lucas and Sir Vince Cable, the outgoing leader of the Liberal Democrats. In addition, the Westminster leaders of Plaid Cymru and the Scottish National Party, Liz Saville-Roberts and Ian Blackford, joined the talks.

The meeting was the second to take place this year after members of the UK Student Climate Network headed to the House of Commons in April alongside catalyst for the youth climate movement, Greta Thunberg. Before 2019, Westminster leaders had not convened cross-party roundtables on climate since the Climate Change Act 2008.

The UK Student Climate Network was formed in late 2018 as a vehicle for positive climate action. The organisation has hosted the #YouthStrike4Climate demonstrations on a monthly basis across the UK which has seen tens of thousands of young people ditch the classroom and take to the streets. The organisation is demanding the implementation of a Green New Deal, education reform to centre the crisis as a core part of learning and incorporating youth views in policy making including votes at 16.

The climate roundtable comes ahead of the next YouthStrike4Climate demonstrations on Friday, July 19, across Scotland, and a global day of action for climate on September 20.

Erin said: “Climate breakdown is the biggest threat we’ve ever faced as a species so it’s good to see some sort of cross-party working to address the issue. However, we will require bold and ambitious ideas, like a Green New Deal, to transform our economy and society to be focused upon environmental and social principles to stand any chance of averting the worst effects of the impacts of climate change.

“Young people have been leading the way on the issue in 2019, with tens of thousands of us calling for climate justice every month. We won’t stop until politicians at all levels do what is necessary to protect people and our futures.”