Thousands of school students demand climate action at protests across Australia

The latest School Strike 4 Climate rallies come two weeks before the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow.

School student Amos Timms holding a sign at the Adelaide strike.

School student Amos Timms, left, at the Adelaide strike. Source: Peta Doherty/SBS News

Thousands of school students have skipped class across Australia to demand more action from state, territory and federal governments on climate change. 

The rallies on Friday were organised by the group 'School Strike 4 Climate', and were held in cities and towns across the country, including Hobart, Adelaide, Alice Springs and Townsville.

Organisers said about 3,000 people took part in Brisbane about 1,500 in Adelaide, 1,000 in Perth, 650 in Darwin and more than 500 in Hobart.

They said taking into account smaller regional events, about 10,000 were involved across the country.

The NSW and Melbourne rallies were held online due to COVID-19 concerns.

Organiser of the Melbourne rally Shuzhong Wu said she became passionate about taking action on climate change when she learned how it was affecting people's lives. 

"When I heard about School Strike, I thought to myself - hey this is a really cool movement, and from then, I became an organiser."

Shuzhong attending a school strike in Melbourne prior to lockdown.
Source: Supplied/Shuzhong Wu

"In Melbourne we did a 'Strike School'," Ms Wu said. 

"We taught information about the climate movement and about voting power, and in NSW they, did a statewide rally online where they called and emailed MPs.

"I want politicians to know if they don't take real climate action now, that the youth will be using our power to vote them out, because we won't take a stand for the current action they are doing to worsen the climate crisis."

Attendees of the Hobart strike were required to register, check in, wear masks and use hand sanitiser. 

"I think the turnout today despite the abysmal weather conditions is absolutely amazing," organiser Sam Eccleston, 15, said.

Sam Eccleston is the organiser for the Hobart Strike 4 Climate rally
Source: SBS News/Sarah Maunder

"We're here to protest the Morrison government's lack of action on climate change. Last week, we saw the Liberal Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein announce a net zero by 2030 target, which is a step in the right direction, we were really encouraged to see that.

"But on the federal level, we still see Scott Morrison's government bickering about whether to implement a 2050 target, let alone a 2030 target, so we're here to push the Morrison government to be more progressive, and to stand more like their Liberal counterparts in Tasmania."

Owen Fitzgerald at the Hobart protest.
Source: SBS News/Sarah Maunder

Sixteen-year-old Owen Fitzgerald attended the Hobart protest as well. 

"It's so important that we secure our futures," he said. "If we have to stand in the rain, we're going to stand in the rain. We want our futures to be secure, and we need the federal government to change its policies."

With two weeks to go before the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Scotland, countries across the world are being asked to come forward with ambitious 2030 emissions reduction targets that align with reaching net zero by 2050.

They are being urged to accelerate the phase-out of coal, curtail deforestation, speed up the switch to electric vehicles and encourage investment in renewable energy.

The Morrison government has so far committed to reducing emissions by between 26 and 28 per cent by 2030.

It is also working on a plan on how to reach net zero by 2050. 

With AAP.

Published 15 October 2021 at 2:50pm
By Sarah Maunder
Source: SBS News