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Yes, Prime Minister, I'm striking from school: consider it a climate lesson

Over 15,000 students participated in school climate strikes in late November 2018, in all of Australia's capital cities and 20 regional centres. Many students will continue strike action after the summer holidays and ahead of the federal election, starting with Stop Adani protests in the coming weeks. Many are organising meetings with their federal politicians to call for an end to the Adani coal mine, no new coal and gas projects, and a commitment to get Australia to 100% renewable energy by 2030.

Below is an article by Veronica Hester, a student in Sydney's Sutherland Shire, published in the Fairfax press.

I am Veronica, 15 years old, from Scott Morrison's electorate. Despite our Prime Minister's calls for students not to strike from school on Friday, we're choosing to no longer be powerless. We will be striking with thousands of other students, to show we will not stand for our government's inaction on climate change.

Mr Morrison has condemned the strike, saying he does not support our schools being turned into parliaments. "More learning and less activism," he said. If he and our politicians listened to the climate science we have been taught, and took action like those of us in school, we wouldn't have to resort to strike action.

In school, we have seen the raw truth of climate change: videos of our dead and dying Great Barrier Reef, increasingly shocking statistics, forecasts of a worrying future.

Seeing this, we students do not shout at each other across the classroom. We sit in a shocked silence. Afterwards, we shout, with our signs and our demands. Because how can an educated person know all we know, and do nothing?

Mr Morrison and his government continue to overlook the danger of climate change, while not seeming to have a problem helping coal miners such as Adani dig up and burn more coal. It's surreal to watch nothing significant happening on the parliamentary floor, when the solutions have been made so clear. We are one of the sunniest and windiest countries in the world, yet our government chooses to burn more coal.

When Mr Morrison refuses to implement a climate policy that keeps fossil fuels in the ground and transition to 100 per cent renewable energy, he isn't representing us, our community, or the majority of Australians who want urgent climate action.

Tackling climate change isn't just about looking out for our young people. We'll all live with extreme heat and changing weather patterns, not to mention the sense of helplessness in losing our natural world.

By making a stand and organising our communities, we can push our politicians to represent us, not lumps of coal.

A 15-year-old Swedish student, Greta Thunberg, was alone and frustrated when she started striking from school to protest climate inaction in politics. Now she's sparked a global movement.

I'm not old enough to vote, but the strike has taught me that I'm old enough to do something. All of us are.

Greta's one request was that "we treat this climate crisis as a crisis".

That is all we want – for a serious problem to be treated seriously by our politicians. We need the fire of climate change to be confronted, not left to engulf my generation.

More information: / #StrikeClimate


Published in Chain Reaction #134, December 2018. National magazine of Friends of the Earth Australia.

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