Australia

Climate strikes fill Australia's streets

Australian students joining global school strike to call for action on climate change. (AAP)

Tens of thousands of students will strike from school across Australia on Friday, calling for the government to take urgent action against climate change.

Senior cabinet minister Christopher Pyne has criticised tens of thousands of Australian students striking over inaction on climate change, saying the move will damage their education.

Friday's country-wide mass protest comes months after students first skipped school over climate action, a move condemned by the prime minister.

This time students are taking part in a day of global action with more than 90 countries participating.

"Usually strikes are when employees withdraw their labour from an employee so I'm not sure why the students are withdrawing themselves from school. It only damages their education," Mr Pyne told Nine's Today on Friday.

He said the students should be in school, and if they wanted to engage in political activism it should be on their own time.

Labor frontbencher Joel Fitzgibbon defended student activism, saying children should be encouraged to express their opinions.

"I don't think any student is going to miss out on their career because they missed a few hours of school today," he said.

"As long as they are safe and their parents know where they are and they are marching or protesting in a respectful way, in a responsible way, I think that is fine."

Victorian high school student Milou Albrecht was central to organising the strikes and says she will be taking to the streets out of fear of not having a safe future.

"We don't want to strike," the 14-year-old told AAP.

"We love learning, that's important for them to know."

The students have three demands: stop the Adani coal mine in central Queensland, no new coal or gas, and 100 per cent renewables by 2030.

More than 800 academics have signed an open letter in solidarity with the striking students, with some set to join in on protests on Friday.

Milou and her friend Harriet O'Shea Carre were inspired by Swedish teen Greta Thunberg, who has been striking for climate action since last August.

Harriet hopes the prime minister calls a climate emergency, and says she will feel terrible if he again condemns their actions.

"It's totally unfair considering they have been representing (voters) with the expectations they will do what's in the best interests of the country," she said.

"They are letting us down every single day they don't do that."

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