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20th of September 2019: St Andrews Line in the Sand for Climate Change

The 20th -27th of September marked the “Global Week for Future” that inspired climate strikes all around the world and coincided with the UN Climate Action Summit in New York. The largest historical day of global climate strikes took place on the 20th of September 2019. An estimate of 7 million people participated in the strikes globally. This historic event was part of the school strike for climate movement that was inspired by Swedish Climate Activist Greta Thunberg just over a year ago.

The 20th of September was not only a day of global significance but also a historic event in St Andrews. We formed a line in the sand for climate change of over 1200 people along West Sands beach. The line in the sand was a symbolic action and silent strike to reflect on what climate change means for all of us. What does it mean for us individually, collectively and as a society? Are we ready for the large- scale changes that have to happen? What does climate change mean for us as a sea-side town? How can we all form part of the solution?

The St Andrews Climate Action Day started off with a strike and protest in St Salvator’s Quad and then led along the streets of St Andrews down to West Sands beach.  The sheer volume of people who joined the strike was incredible as well as the energy that we as a crowd carried. People from all ages participated: students, school children, nursery kids, toddlers, parents, adults and senior citizens formed part of this #allforclimate movement.

At the beach we were joined by even more people chanting for immediate climate action. This then led into speeches by the Deputy Principal Professor Lorna Milner, MP Stephan Gethins and MSP Willie Rennie showing their support of the movement and commitment to climate action. What followed next was a line in the sand that was longer than the eye could see and stretched along West Sands Beach. The 5- minute silence was marked with the start of the bagpipers playing and ending with a ripple of clapping down the line. During the five minutes the crowd stood looking out onto the ocean while birds flew over our heads and toddlers were playing in the water. “It is their future”, is all what I could think, “all of our future”.

St Andrews is such a beautiful place to live in and such a special old town but with sea-level rise and the increase in extreme weather events all what we know and love here is also put at risk. According to the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) we now only have 10 years left before we reach critical turning points that lead us to Climate Catastrophe. We all like to pretend that we have a future and many people plan a substantial amount of their life around it but how can we lead and demand climate action in our day to day lives?

This world has to achieve the impossible if we want to stop the climate crisis but with everyone standing up for that future the impossible can become possible. 1200 people drew a line in the sand for climate change. This climate strike was the biggest strike St Andrews has ever seen. We made history in a 600-year-old university. If that is not a mandate for change then I don’t know what is.

In the town of St Andrews there is also still a lot that needs to be done to ensure climate action and sustainability. This is an opportunity to become climate leaders and shine an example into the world. One of the most powerful chants that we proclaimed was “We are unstoppable another world is possible”. Whatever happens we cannot and will not give up on our future. Let us never forget the power we have as a collective. The time for change has come. It is time for everyone to get involved and start standing up for the future that they are studying and working for.