Students Demand Government Stop Adani Coal Mine and Transition to Solar Power: Big School Walk Out for Climate Action to be followed by more actions
‘The Blue Mountains train is PACKED with school kids and Climate Action signs!’ 11am post on social media
Despite the NSW Education Department stating public school students would face disciplinary action should they attend Friday’s Big School Walk Out for Climate Change, the Sydney strike went ahead with many Peninsula students among their number, some accompanied by their parents. The students came from every age range and from many local primary and high schools.
The strikers are supported by the New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties in their strike action and have asked any who are facing disciplinary action to contact them – their media release runs below.
The Organisers of the nation-wide strikes said 15,000 students took part in events held in every capital city and in 20 regional towns on Friday. There were also lots of events in smaller areas where schools’ students banded together to in their strikes.
Some ‘strikes’ were held in school grounds, with students walking outside, turning off lights and air-conditioning during the strike time.
In areas where there were no strikes organised, such as Leeton, some students walked out of school at 12 pm, strike time, and spent their allotted ‘strike’ hours writing emails to MP’s to communicate their thoughts on the matter.
Around 5000 strikers attended the Sydney event held in Martin Place.
Chants such as "What do we want? Climate action. When do we want it? Now," and "Hey hey, ho ho, ScoMo has got to go," in reference to the Prime Minister, echoed around the concourse.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said earlier this week the nation needed "more learning in schools and less activism".
The Prime Ministers’ response was to questions asked by Member for Melbourne Adam Bandt who asked whether the Prime Minister would join him in praising the students for having a go and whether he would meet with and listen to their demands for action on climate change and to keep coal in the ground.
The questions were asked in response to this letter, posted on the School Strike For Climate Action website:
Dear Mr Prime Minister Morrison,
My name is Portia Solari. I am 17 years old and live in Cronulla, in your electorate.
I am joining hundreds of kids around the country this week to send a message to you as the leader of our country to please take our futures seriously.
Climate change is a crisis and it’s already hurting people in Australia and other people around the world. It will only get worse if you don’t take urgent action to make it better.
Otherwise me and other kids will not have as good a chance as you did to have a good life.
We are striking from school to show how serious we are.
We are willing to risk our education because this problem is so important to us, and we don’t understand what the point of learning facts at school is if politicians keep ignoring them.
Please will you meet with us and at least hear what we have to say?
I can meet you in your office in our community with some of my friends?
And other kids will be at Parliament House this Wednesday —can you meet with them and hear what they have to say?
We need to know that you are serious about protecting our futures or what hope do we have?
The Prime Ministers response, as above, inspired some of the placards the students then created.
On the 26th of November, at 17:00 (5pm) the Australian Senate passed a motion in support of the student strikers. On the same date, at 17: 15 (5.15pm) a motion in support of expanding Australia’s coal production, Coal-Fired Power Stations, also passed in the Senate.
In response the first passed motion, Sydney Strike Organiser Jean Hinchliffe, 14 years old, from Fort Street High, said:
“As our Prime Minister chooses to ignore the ever increasing problem of climate change, our generation has decided to step up and fill the void. We thank the Senators who have chosen to stand with young people in Parliament today, and we call on more politicians from all sides of politics to do the same.
“As young people we’re already seeing the devastating impacts of climate change and will be forced to endure the consequences of our government’s inaction. We need all politicians and any future government to take the action scientists tell us we need - that means a commitment to stop Adani’s coal mine and a plan to transition away from all fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy by 2030.
“To those who voted against our motion for climate action in Parliament today, we say: your decisions have far more weight than you seem to acknowledge, and they will determine our future. You may not have to live through 50 degree days, bushfires and crippling drought, but we will. Already, we are living with climate impacts and the toll it is taking on us as young people is huge. Right now, we’re literally fighting for our lives”.
“We need you to do your jobs and lead us away from climate catastrophe so that our generation can have a future to look forward to.”
One teacher at Kinma school in Terrey Hills, with parental permission, brought a group of 19 students in years 4-6 to the event.
"They felt strongly about it and asked if they could come down today to express how they felt to the government."
Her students have been actively involved in making a practical difference and had recently visited Mona Vale beach to pick up plastic found there.
Another attendee Ella, 10 years of age, said "I think it's stupid that no one has done anything. We could already have solar energy and yet we're still using coal."
Resources Minister Matt Canavan said in a 2GB interview on Friday he wanted children in school learning about how to build mines, do geology and how to drill for oil and gas, "which is one of the most remarkable science exploits in the world".
"The best thing you'll learn about going to a protest is how to join the dole queue. Because that's what your future life will look like, up in a line asking for a handout, not actually taking charge for your life and getting a real job."
The student strikers responded that without action on Climate Change there was no future for them, their children and their grandchildren.
When the peaceful protest ended in Martin Place not one skerrick of rubbish was left in their wake.
The School Strike for Climate Action has been reported internationally with news agencies from New York to the U.K., throughout Europe and New Zealand picking up the story and broadcasting the placards held by the strikers.
Organisers state the students will persist in demanding those meant to represent all, whether they’re old enough to vote or not, actively pursue action that will shift the focus onto renewable energy and address climate change in real terms.
Some of the pictures from the School Strike 4 Climate events around Australia
School Strike 4 Climate - Adelaide
School Strike 4 Climate - Cygnet, Tasmania
School Strike 4 Climate - Ballarat, Victoria
School Strike 4 Climate - Gloucester, North Coast of NSW
School Strike 4 Climate - Byron Bay
School Strike 4 Climate - Perth (also one at Margaret River)
School Strike 4 Climate - Melbourne
School Strike 4 Climate - Newcastle, NSW
School Strike 4 Climate - Coffs Harbour
School Strike 4 Climate - Sydney - live stream video
NSWCCL supports school student strike
November 29, 2018: Media Release
The New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties applauds school students in Sydney and across the country for walking out of schools in support of climate action.
Climate change is an important issue which will have the deepest effect on the most vulnerable people within society moving into the future.
NSWCCL Vice President, Josh Pallas, said “It is so encouraging for us to see young people mobilised around such an important issue. They are showing bravery in exercising their political rights on an issue that stands to have the greatest impact on their lives. The Prime Minister, our government, and school principals should be encouraged to see that our students are active civic citizens”.
The students have come under sustained criticism from the government for walking out of schools. Some have reported that their principals are threatening reprisals if they attend and wear their school uniforms. NSWCCL condemns any criticism of these students for exercising their democratic rights to freedom of assembly and speech.
NSWCCL President, Pauline Wright said “The Council stands in solidarity with students today. No one should stand in the way of them exercising their rights.”
NSWCCL would like any school students who face reprisals to get in contact with them.