School Strike 4 Climate: It’s Time for Change


Image courtesy of BBC

Anushka Elavia, Staff Writer

Thousands of students across Australia walked out of classrooms to take part in the School Strike 4 Climate campaign on Friday, May 21, protesting for urgent action on climate change. The protests were held in 47 different locations across the continent, from Alice Springs to Launceston, Cairns, Margret River, Bendigo and Port Macquarie. Strikers, all part of the youth-led movement, protested for climate justice, condemning the federal government for supporting emission-intensive energy sources. Instead, they collectively proposed ideas to urge the government to do more to ensure a renewable energy future. These ideas included funding the establishment of secure jobs that expedite solutions to the climate crisis, funding projects aimed towards transitioning the economy to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030, and resourcing solutions to guarantee protective land rights. 

The protests reflected the widespread discontent amidst the youth towards the lack of political action taken towards preserving the environment. David Soriano, a 17-year-old attending a rally in Sydney shared his concerns over the future and his personal experiences with climate change, explaining how he experiences increasing heat waves and low air quality where he lives in Western Sydney. “We’re scared and concerned. We’re doubtful that there might not be a future in store for the generations after us, and even our own generation,” he mentioned. He hopes the government will perceive the youth movement as a determined and powerful force – a force to be reckoned with. 

Australia is one of the world’s largest carbon emitters on a per capita basis. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has faced substantial criticism over climate policy and international pressure to escalate efforts to cut emissions. Last month at a global climate summit, Morrison refused calls to create more ambitious environmental targets, despite the compliance of other nations to reduce their usage. Critics argue, however, that the reliance on gas in Australia simply does not make sense anymore. Nicki Hutley, an economist at the Climate Council, explained that gas “increases emissions at a time when the rest of the world is reducing emissions, and it creates very few jobs”. Understanding the urgency for immediate climate reform, the momentum of these youth-led initiatives is only anticipated to increase in the coming years; the time for change is now.