An estimated 150,000 students and adult supporters across Australia joined massive, vibrant, nationwide climate strikes on March 15, in over 60 cities and towns across the nation, demanding immediate and urgent leadership from Australian politicians to tackle climate change.
Sixteen-year-old Nosrat Fareha from western Sydney said, "The turn out across Australia was nothing short of amazing. Politicians have responded with indifference to our crippling summer of record heat, bushfires and floods. It's no wonder so many came out in support today. With the federal election around the corner, our political leaders must commit to stop the Adani coal mine, say no to new coal and gas projects and transition to 100% renewable energy by 2030. There's no time to stand by and wait for the bold action we need. We will keep organising, building our movement and riding the wave of community frustration until Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten step up to the job."
Students are discussing further strikes if they don't see action from politicians. Other plans include #ClimateElection KickStart meetings to make plans to pressure politicians to show climate leadership, and local climate change candidate forums where candidates will be challenged by school students to commit to stop Adani and act on climate change.
The March 15 school strikes were 10 times the size of last November's strikes. Last November, over 15,000 Australian school students went on strike, defying Prime Minister Scott Morrison's orders not to. A similar number hit the streets a week later, in response to Adani's announcement it would self-fund its Carmichael mine.
A national Reachtel poll conducted on 12 March 2019 found that a majority of Australians (54%) support the student strikers' demands (stop Adani, no new coal and gas projects, 100% renewable energy by 2030) and of this, a sizeable number (42%) 'strongly support' them.
The Australian school strike movement began last year when students were inspired by 15-year-old Swedish student Greta Thunberg who has been striking outside Swedish Parliament every Friday since August 2018. Thunberg said: "I often hear adults say: 'We need to give the next generation hope'. But I don't want your hope. I want your panic. I want you to feel the fear I do. Every day. And I want you to act. I want you to behave like our house is on fire. Because it is."
Internationally, well over one million students took action on March 15, in about 130 countries.
Published in Chain Reaction #135, April 2019. National magazine of Friends of the Earth Australia. www.foe.org.au/chain_reaction
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