On Friday May 21 tens of thousands of students and their supporters walked out of classrooms and workplaces to join School Strike 4 Climate (SS4C) events around the country. The rallies are part of a global youth-led movement for urgent action on climate change.
Protestors gathered at midday at Sydney Town Hall and marched through rain to Prince Alfred Park. They chanted support of Indigenous-led solutions to climate change, resisting fossil fuel developments and condemning the Morrison government’s recent decision to fund a $600-million gas-fired power station in Kurri Kurri (Hunter region, NSW).
Gomeroi man Ian Brown, a member of Gamilaraay Next Generation, a youth collective fighting against the Santos Narrabri Gas Project in the Pilliga Forest, urged people from all walks of life to come together to pressure leaders to take action on the climate. “There is no planet B,” he said. “We’ve got to step up and take a stand. The land doesn’t belong to us, we belong to it. It is our mother, our carer and our provider. We are striking for climate, to stand with sovereign land and water protectors.”
Ruby Bron of Santa Sabina College said public money should be used to transition the economy away from fossil fuels: “[It] should be used to fund the creation of jobs that will fast-track solutions to the climate crisis.”
Natasha Abhayawickrama of Tara Anglican School for Girls said students believed creating a “disruption” was the only way their voices would be heard. She added: “Morrison and his government could and should be protecting our climate, land and water. Their money-making agenda – at the expense of vulnerable Australians’ wellbeing and prosperity – is fuelling the climate crisis.”
Port Macquarie student Patrick Rudd described the government’s funding of the gas industry as a “slap in the face” for people who had suffered through fires and floods in recent years.
Pitt Street Uniting Church hosted a pre-rally worship service from 10am, led by tertiary group Christian Students Uniting; Uniting Church school students from Pymble Ladies College, given express permission to strike; members of the church’s Pulse youth program; and members of Auburn Uniting Church. Matthew Powell from Christian Students Uniting and Milise (Ofa) Foiakau from Pulse delivered the sermon. Ofa spoke about the effects of the climate crisis on her home in Fiji.
SS4C is demanding the federal government turn its back on emissions-intensive energy sources by: resourcing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led solutions that guarantee land rights; creating secure jobs that fast-track solutions to the climate crisis; and funding projects that transition the economy to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030.
SS4C invites groups, businesses and organisations to stand with them by signing onto their pledge to oppose public funds being spent on gas and instead call on the government to “fund our future not gas”.