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Big School Walkout for Climate Action

Greta Thunberg, 15 year old student and climate activist from Stockholm, Sweden, has been striking from school every Friday to sit outside the Swedish parliament and demand politicians start treating climate change for what it really is: an irreversible threat to all of humanity. Greta says she will continue to protest until Sweden is in line with the Paris Agreement target: reducing their emissions by 15%, and that is at the very least. To prevent greater damage to communities and ecosystems around the world, maintaining the earth below 2 degrees celsius is absolutely vital.

The climate change debate can be pretty confusing, filled with data, scientific papers and complicated language. But Greta puts it simply and tells it like it is: 

“Some say I should be in school. But why should any young person be made to study for a future when no one is doing enough to save that future? What is the point of learning facts when the most important facts given by the finest scientists are ignored by our politicians?” 

Greta’s call to arms from Sweden has reached Australian students across the nation, who will all be banding together today to protest climate change inaction. Australia, like Sweden is a wealthy country that has reaped the benefits of industrialisation, whereas less developed nations do not have the resources to defend themselves from climate changes and as a result are, quite literally, drowning. As a nations with a huge carbon footprint, we have the responsibility to act.

Thousands of students across Australia walked out of class in nationwide strike over climate change today, Friday the 30th of November. A group of students from the Victorian country town of Castlemaine have been holding strikes once a week throughout the month of November to protest government inaction on climate change. Last Thursday, these students were denied entry to Labor Party leader Bill Shorten’s electorate office as part of a string of protests, having already visited the offices of Labor MP Lisa Chesters and Nationals Deputy Leader Bridget McKenzie. Action is planned today in all of Australia’s capital cities as well as various regional locations where students will gather to state and territory parliaments.

“I’m going on strike because I believe that right now, temporarily sacrificing my education is what I need to do to save my future,” said Year 5 student Callum Neilson-Bridgfoot.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison responded in parliament saying that schools and students should be ‘less activist’ and let politicians ‘deal with it’. But we reckon students standing up for what they believe in and making a difference is pretty awesome.

Last year Australia was the world’s largest exporters of coal, which has huge environmental impacts, including but not exclusive to air and water pollution and emitting large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere resulting in damaging and irreversible atmospheric pollution. As a privileged nation we need to stand up to our politicians and demand change.

With this in mind, Australian politicians’ continued support for Adani’s coal mine in the Galilee Basin in Queensland is a clear indicator that more needs to be done to prevent this going ahead, along with other atrocities. The mine, if it goes ahead, will be built on Indigenous land of the Wangan and Jagalingou people, who in August this year lost native title rights in a federal court ruling.

In response to Scott Morrison’s condemnation of the national student strike, Australian Youth Climate Coalition spokesperson Laura Sykes said it was “shocking” that the nation’s prime minister was in outrage about students who want to “stand up for a safe climate future”. She went on to say, “When young people try to have a voice in politics, Scott Morrison is shutting them down, yet he’s happy to listen to the coal lobby and big corporations who continue to profit from making climate change worse.

The evidence of climate change is there and has been for years, so ignoring it is directly allowing the earth’s destruction and a pessimistic future for young people everywhere.

The students have come to terms with the realities of climate change, going to school won’t matter if the world can no longer sustain them or their children, or grandchildren. They’ve realised what’s important and they’re fighting for it. It’s time our politicians did the same.

These students are a powerful force to be reckoned with, and they’re not about to back down. As 14 year old Sydney student Jean Hinchliffe, said: “This is our first strike. Our first action. And it is just the beginning. And we’ll keep doing it until something is done”

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If you want to learn more about climate change and how you can make a difference check out these pages:

Climate Change

Climate Action

Start a Group

Sustainability: Live Local

Alice Chambers

Alice is a volunteer at the Victorian Women’s Trust and a student at the University of Melbourne where she is studying a Master of Global Media Communication. Alice is passionate about gender equality and believes it cannot not be achieved until the struggles of all kinds of women are heard. She is also passionate about pizza and her dog Scout (if you’re asking). 

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