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Nine-year-old Extinction Rebellion supporter pleads with Boris Johnson to save the planet

After last month’s York Gardens protest in Battersea, nine-year-old Extinction Rebellion supporter Aela Garrigan felt compelled to write to Boris Johnson as a matter of urgency.

In early March, tensions ran high over the felling of a 100-year-old black poplar tree in Battersea’s York Gardens.

Environmental activists and members of Extinction Rebellion were left outraged, and Wandsworth Borough Council said it was ‘unavoidable’ in the rush to build more affordable housing for low-income residents.

Aela’s father Dan Garrigan, 40, posted a picture on Twitter of Aela’s handwritten letter to the Prime Minister, pleading with him to step in and do something about the impending climate crisis.

GETTING PEN TO PAPER: Nine-year-old Aela pleads for Boris Johnson to listen

Aela wrote: “Dear Boris Johnson, I have an urgent matter to discuss with you. I’m telling you about climate change. You need to help otherwise your children’s children’s children may not live because of us.

“They’ll learn about how they will die soon because of us.

“Please, nobody else will listen. I hope you will.”

Garrigan explained that Aela was inspired by the felling of the poplar tree, which she passed every day on her way to school. 

ALL THE WAY DOWN: The 100-year-old poplar tree was cut down against some residents’ wishes

Since the incident there have been glimmers of a fightback from local children who fear for their futures and, in a nursery adjacent to York Gardens, children sang ‘save our trees’ as they looked on. 

After witnessing the felling, Aela expressed her worries to her teacher, who then organised a trip to the gardens where Aela and her peers were able to safely protest.

HIGH IN THE SKY: The poplar was the heart of the area and provided a sanctuary for many

Aela said: “I saw them cut one of the tree’s big branches and it made me really sad. I went home and knew I had to write to Boris Johnson.

“When the Prime Minister or other powerful people say that they’re going to do something I think, why are you saying it and not doing it?”

Aela and her father have since sold their car and committed to cycling, and living in a more eco-friendly way. 

WHEELING AROUND: Aela and Dan are now accustomed to getting around on some greener wheels

Garrigan said he is led by Aela’s example.  

Member of Extinction Rebellion Wandsworth, Caroline Hartnell, 70, said: “It’s inspiring to hear of children and young people becoming climate change activists.

“But as Greta Thunberg once said, what an appalling indictment of our world that children are campaigning to try to clean up the mess adults have made.”

Garrigan added: “Ultimately, we’re borrowing the planet from young people. It’s not ours to ruin.” 

Feature image credit: Dan Garrigan

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