Australian students are dedicating the month of November to a series of protests for climate change action. Students ranging from age five to 18 in all of Australia’s capital cities are participating in the School Strike 4 Climate Change movement. The students are also demanding for the cancellation of a new coal mine that will be built in Central Queensland, the rejection of new coal or gas projects, and movement towards 100 percent renewable energy by 2030.
The movement has sparked criticism from the Australian government. In response to the protests, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told students to do “more learning and less activism in schools. We don’t support the idea of kids not going to school to participate in things that can be dealt with outside of school.”
Milou Albrecth, a 14-year-old student from Bendigo, Southeastern Australia, was inspired to start the movement after a similar student protest earlier this year in Sweden. In early November, Albrecth, along with 30 students, protested against the building of a coal mine in northeastern Australia in Bendigo. The students skipped school and marched outside local Labor MP Lisa Chesters’ office for three days. On the last day, the group grew to 50 students and they were successful in gaining a meeting with the MP.
After the Bendigo protest, the movement gained momentum with kids across Australia striking for climate action. Some students are striking for a week, some are striking one day per week throughout November, and some are striking for half a day. The length of the strikes depends on what is most suitable for the students.
In response to the Prime Minister’s disapproval, School Strike 4 Climate Change told CNN, “maybe if the people in power like Scott Morrison listened to the climate scientists and took action to stop dangerous climate change then we wouldn’t have to resort to all become climate activists.”
Australia is currently dependent on burning coal for energy; coal is the energy source that releases the most greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. Despite the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report in October which highlighted the dangerous warming of the atmosphere and the dire need to reduce greenhouse pollution by 100 percent in 2050, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said Australia should absolutely continue to back its coal industry.
Further, despite the majority of Australians accepting that human-induced climate change is real, global warming and climate change action is still a highly controversial subject in Australian politics.
Newswire Sources: CNN 11/26/18; Bustle 11/26/18; Buzzfeed News 11/25/18; The New York Times 10/7/18