The stakes were life and death for ACT school climate strikers as they placed protest placards on the lawns of Parliament House today (25 September) demanding the government rule out public money investment in a gas-led recovery.
The students joined a network of activists around the country in Australia’s first national day of #FundOurFutureNotGas action against the gas industry.
The School Strike 4 Climate network said they had the backing of a number of First Nations communities, 25 unions including the United Workers Union, the Maritime Union and Australia’s biggest union, the Nurses and Midwives Association.
School Strike 4 Climate spokesperson Rosie, a year 11 student from Dickson College, said Australia had no reason to invest in the gas industry.
“Australia is the sunniest and windiest country on earth, and we are in the perfect position to invest in renewable energy with the COVID recovery funds,” Rosie said.
“Scott Morrison just needs to get over his need for money.”
Fellow striker Jimmy, in year nine at Lyneham High, said they were striking because it was their lives at stake.
“Using these fuels, with all of the evidence against it, is disrespecting our lives and it’s going to kill us,” Jimmy said.
School Strike 4 Climate demands
The protest movement’s demands were that no public funds be spent on gas or any other fossil fuel, rather that COVID recovery funds be spent on:
- Resourcing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led solutions that guarantee land rights and care for country.
- Creating jobs that fast track solutions to the climate crisis and help communities recover.
- Backing projects that transition the economy and communities to 100% renewable energy by 2030 through expanded public ownership.
The students pointed to a global research company YouGov poll showing six in 10 Australian voters support student demands (61%).
The ACT Greens said they supported the #FundOurFutureNotGas movement and would ensure an ongoing policy of endorsement from the ACT Minister for Education.
The Greens policy would ensure students at ACT Government schools would not be penalised or stopped from attending rallies and events, but they would still need approval from their parents or carers, with parental supervision encouraged.
The policy would also enable teachers to support students to attend such events.
ACT Greens Shane Rattenbury backed the sentiments of tomorrow’s voters and said climate change was the “challenge of a generation”.
“Our future depends on the decisions before us today – cutting emissions, leaving coal in the ground, embracing the renewables revolution. The message from these students to politicians and decision-makers across the country is clear: they want to see action, and they want to see it now. In this, they have our full support.
“These students may be missing a day of school – but they’re already smarter than many of our supposed adult leaders. Maybe it’s the climate change denying and apathetic politicians that need to go back to school,” he said.