They said last November they’d be back, and they were. Children and young people of all ages gathered with their supporters for the School Strike 4 Climate on Friday March 15 in every capital city and some 55 other centres around Australia. Strikes took place in more than 100 countries across the world.
Bold and creative, they came in their masses (150,000 Australia-wide, ten times the size of the November strikes) to advocate for a stop to Adani’s coal mine, no new fossil fuel projects and 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030.
In Sydney the crowd at Town Hall was so big that road closures were needed at Elizabeth, Castlereagh, Pitt and Druitt streets. Joining the students were many adults – with signs such as “class of ’89” and “class of ’69” to be seen.
Seasoned climate activists have called this growing movement, which started last August with 15-year-old Swedish striker Greta Thunberg, the most hopeful thing they have witnessed in many years. When large numbers of people take to the streets to stand against injustice, as social movements of decades past have shown, real change is possible.
The students continue to defy many of the nation’s politicians – including Prime Minister Scott Morrison and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, who have condemned the strikes – but are supported by others, such as former NSW Opposition Leader Michael Daley and Clover Moore, Lord Mayor of Sydney. Those behind the strikes are organising responsibly – communicating that students should have written consent from their parents and guardians to strike, and prioritising safety at rallies. They have been endorsed by 26 unions and are now planning further strikes, meetings and candidate forums.
“We may not have a vote but we have a voice … and we say climate action now,” student speakers told the Sydney crowd. “We’re sick of being ignored, we’re sick of our futures being turned into political footballs.”
“We don’t have time for the government to be fighting over whether climate change is real … we have 12 years to stop the worst impacts of climate change,” said Danielle Villafana-Pore, a Fort Street High School student and one of the rally emcees.
These non-voters intend to put climate change at the centre of the federal election. “Together we will show every candidate and political party that we mean business,” reads the strikers’ website.
People wishing to support the students can find out how to do so at https://www.schoolstrike4climate.com/support-us.