Climate change protest placards
Image credit: Creative Commons, Mark Dixon

Young people are the ones who will live to see the worst impacts of climate change. But they are also the ones who have the least say in their own future as they can’t vote. By the time many young people are old enough to vote and have their say, it might already be too late to avert climate catastrophe.

In the run up to the European parliament elections, some older people who won’t live to see the worst effects of climate change have been taking action to remedy this injustice by giving their votes to their grandchildren who are too young to cast their ballot in the upcoming elections.

The movement to give young people a voice in the climate debate by giving them the power to vote has spawned a hashtag, #givethekidsyourvote. It has been gaining traction on Twitter and has even spread to Australia, where older people were encouraged to give their vote to young people in the federal elections.

Voices of youth

A spokesperson for the UK Student Climate Network, speaking to Bright Green, said:

We’re at a precipice that requires immediate and urgent action to achieve climate justice, which is exactly what younger generations are calling for. It’s fantastic that older generations are willing to give those unable to cast a ballot a proxy vote to attempt to influence their own futures through democratic mechanisms available. We must make the climate crisis and its solutions the number one issue for voters.

Lilly Platt, 11, is one of these young people who want to make their voices heard. Her grandfather, Jim, 79, has decided to give her a voice by giving his vote to his grand-daughter. Speaking to Bright Green, Jim said:

It is a privilege for me to give my EU election vote to my grand-daughter, which I will also do in all the other elections I can vote in, both local and national, until she is old enough to vote for herself. We hope to inspire other cross-generational pairings, and help to create an even greater impact in building a good future for the young.

Lilly, also speaking to Bright Green, said:

When my grandpa casts his vote in the EU Elections, it will be for the candidate who I think is best for the future of my generation, generations to come, and the welfare of our planet. Giving me his vote means that the voice of young people like me can be heard, and this is an action that brings hope and can make a difference.

Andreas Magnusson, a 15 year old climate activist from Sweden, speaking to Bright Green on the #givethekidsyourvote movement, said:

I think that this is extremely important because the next five years will be crucial for future generations. When they [older people] vote for us, they vote for our future. They vote basically for my life. The adults have a responsibility to us. They now have the chance to be part of saving me and my generation’s future.

The European parliament elections are running across the European Union from Thursday 23 May to Sunday 26 May. Elections for the UK are on Thursday.