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Schoolboy on Climate Hunger Strike Won't Eat Until New Coal Mine is Scrapped

 

 

By Joe Roberts

February 1, 2020 - A schoolboy is refusing to eat until the proposals for the UK’s first deep coal mine for 30 years are scrapped.

Elijah McKenzie-Jackson, 16, started his hunger strike outside the Houses of Parliament on Monday.

Elijah is protesting the proposed Woodhouse Colliery in Cumbria, the UK’s first new coal mine for 30 years

Picture: Jerry Syder for Metro.co.uk

 

Work is expected to begin at Woodhouse Colliery this year

Picture: West Cumbria Mining Company

 

The young climate activist, who is part of Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for Future youth movement, wants to stop coal production at the Woodhouse Colliery in Whitehaven, Cumbria.

The mine has sparked an outcry from environmental campaigners who slammed it as unnecessary and incompatible with the UK’s climate ambitions.

Despite the uproar, Elijah does not believe enough people are talking about the controversial plans to begin extracting fossil fuels on British soil.

He has been waking up at 6am so he can fit in a couple hours protesting in Westminster before heading back to school in north London.

Elijah told Metro.co.uk: ‘It’s a really hard issue because obviously a lot of jobs are provided by the mine but we need to think beyond that area.

‘We need to think about the generation to come. We need to think about who will be affected.’

The council gave the £165 million colliery the green light after West Cumbria Mining Company assured it would be ‘carbon neutral’ and provide 500 local jobs.

But the claims were rejected in a report by independent thinktank, Green Alliance, who said the mine would produce 8.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, equivalent to the emissions from more than one million households.

Work is expected to begin at the mine this spring, with coal production scheduled for 2022.

The mine was welcomed by Tory MP for Copeland, Trudy Harrison, who said it’s ‘vital’ it goes ahead.

‘Coking coal is essential for the steel industry and this has been rightly recognized,’ she told the BBC last year.

Elijah said he has felt ‘invisible’ outside Parliament so far, with only a couple of children smiling at him since Monday.

He added: ‘I haven’t had any food since Monday. Honestly, I feel a bit wobbly and dazed, but I think I will be okay.

‘I went to the GP before and I’m going to get checked every two days to make sure I don’t have anything really bad.’

Elijah has not told his school what he is up to because he says it can get difficult separating his studies from his protests.

He said: ‘I wasn’t planning on telling them. For me, I feel it’s important to compartmentalize school and my activism, otherwise it can get crazy.

He added: ‘Being a climate activist at such a young age means I have to put in loads of work all of the time.

‘I need to basically grow up really quickly, which is quite difficult. But then I’ve also had the best time ever meeting so many brilliant people.’

One of Fridays for Future’s environmental demands is to start educating young people about climate change in school.

Elijah said: ‘There’s no climate education in school.

When I was young I wouldn’t go out and play football, I would sit and watch documentaries about animals, the environment and climate.

‘It has always interested me to know what is happening.

As I watched more I learned how the injustice was so great.

‘From then it’s just spiralled into activism and really trying to make a change.’

The Year 11 student is about to sit his GCSEs in a few months but he said he is determined to keep campaigning.

He added: ‘You can’t put activism on hold. We can’t put anything else on hold. ‘The more pollution produced the more I will be out on the streets making an impact.’