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One month on from the Global Climate Strike

18 October 2019

Last month, colleagues from The Co-operative Bank were proud to support the first ever Global Climate Strike and call for action on climate change. One of our People with Purpose was Zoe Lawrie, who took part in the strike with her daughters. Here, Zoe tells us about her personal experience of the day, why she got involved, and how the climate debate has changed her everyday family life.

Let me begin by saying we have a lot of debates in our house. Usually about who's using the most wi-fi, or if Liverpool being on the TV means no-one else is allowed in the room. In recent years, they've taken on a new dimension and it's mainly due to our 14 year old, Maddie. I don't know about you, but when I was 14, all I cared about was John Taylor from Duran Duran or if I was allowed to buy those pink stilettos from Wigan Market.

Maddie is vegetarian (although she will eat chicken if I really push my luck). We avoid single use plastic and get a lot of our veg from the allotment. We're not perfect (holidays abroad, two cars...) but we're trying - and a lot of it is down to her influence.

Maddie is officially the next generation. Like 16 year old Greta, she was born with internet and mobile technology in full flow. Social Media was already mainstream by the time she hit primary school. Maddie's generation are in the know. Like it or not, they have unparalleled access to information and news. They're armed with the data to form opinions and ideas. Most of all, they're worried. The impact of climate change will happen to them, and their children - not to us Baby Boomers, Millennials, or Gen Xers.

To children like Maddie, climate change isn't debatable. It's facts and evidence, backed up by scientists and experts. So when she had the chance to take part in the Global Climate Strike, the debate in our house was already won.

I was excited that my employer was taking part in the strike action. It felt significant; that we actively had a stance and were communicating our point of view in more than just words. Fossil fuel extraction is a major climate change factor - The Co-operative Bank refuses to fund any business involved in its production or extraction - but how many customers (and non-customers) are aware that this is a fundamental pillar of our customer-led Ethical Policy? I was proud to be able to take part in the strike on behalf of the Bank.

So two worlds come together. Once Maddie found out I'd be taking part, I couldn't really say no to her. So the letter went into school. The next day it came back unauthorised - I was expecting that, although it did feel naughty! What I heard coming from the teachers however, was very different: support, encouragement, a few high fives. I now wonder if parents knew that they may have the school's support (even if they can't officially give it), more would allow their kids to take part? My eldest, Mia, also found out we were going and, along with her friend, we felt like a proper crew.

The day itself was glorious late September sunshine. Manchester was awash with smiling people, placards and signs, chants and songs. Our walk through the streets took a couple of hours, and was a wonderful way to take in the sights and sounds, waving to people watching from their office windows, high fiving police officers as we marched. Watching my daughters sing in full voice about something they care passionately about made me so proud.

Maddie was one of only two other children from her high school who took part in the Global Climate Strike. I asked her, a couple of weeks later, what she felt about being able to take part in the day. It was simple really - "to be part of something bigger", "to feel like I can personally make a difference" and of course, "to make some noise".

I want to be able to show my children that they can be the change they want to see. However small, those gestures and actions mean that they have permission to make their voices heard. The Global Climate Strike for me was a bit of a defining moment in our family and, hopefully, the start of many more to come.

– Zoe Lawrie, Digital Engagement Lead.

Colleagues like Zoe live and breathe our values and ethics. The Co-operative Bank was proud to support the Global Climate Strike, and we’re committed to protecting the environment all year round. Read more about our approach to sustainable banking here, and about our zero waste to landfill by the end of 2020 commitment here.

How are you taking climate action in your day-to-day life? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter.

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