Most children who were awarded a good citizen award would have appreciated the recognition and attended the ceremony and photocall with their local mayor.
Pontypridd’s Young Friends of the Earth, a group from south Wales, was not having it. They were campaigning for climate change changes.
They rejected the Rhondda Cinon Taf county council borough council (RCT award) because the local authority had to do more to address the real environmental problems in their area. It was devastated by flooding last summer.
Alice Hanks Doyle, one of the RCT members, said that they felt RCT was not doing enough about climate change. We would be hypocritical to accept the award. Although the council claims they have plans to help, you don’t say that a fire is burning. You don’t sit in the flames. You sort it out. They are sitting in flames.
The floods were terrible. I look out the window and imagine that in 10 years, I might be right next to the beach. The sea levels are rising and flooding is more frequent. People ignore it. The air feels stale when I go outside after school. Can I please have fresh air? No.
The group, which is composed of around eight members, was also well-aware enough to know that it might receive more publicity if it declined the award.
They watched a YouTube video of the clip. moment in the movie Brassed OffDanny, the band leader refuses to accept a prize in order to draw attention to the dire situation of mining communities. He explained that “us winning this trophy won’t mean bugger all” to most people. However, if we decline it it becomes news.
Dan Wright, 12, said that if we had accepted the award, it might have been published in the local newspaper. We will now be known by more people. They might join us on a march, or conduct their own research about the climate. I was initially excited to hear about the award. However, I then realized that they were trying to greenwash myself.
The council wrote to inform the group that the awards for good citizenship were only given to a select number of people. They were given a time and location to pick up the certificates and have their photos taken at the council’s photographer.
The children thanked the council politely, but were not impressed by the RCT’s efforts to address the climate emergency.
They pointed out that roads were still being constructed, suggested that more trees could be planted, and expressed concern about the fact that pension funds were being invested in businesses that make a profit from fossil fuels.
The children concluded that protesting was not started to win awards but because people in power weren’t acting. Accepting would be to say that we believe RCT council does enough to protect our future. It scares us that they are not.
Andrew Morgan, leader of the council wrote back explaining The council had previously committed to becoming net zero by 2030. He listed a number of measures being taken and explained why roads still needed to be built. He also mentioned how the council had worked hard for more environmentally friendly investments in pension funds. He also stated that they were looking into how trees and peatbogs could be used for carbon capture and storage.
Rowan Moon (10), a FoE campaigner, was not convinced. He said that he still feels traumatized by the floods. It could happen again. We must be prepared. When asked about RCT’s response, he said the same thing as Greta Thunbergs dismissal promises to global leaders: Blah,blah,blah.