SYDNEY – Thousands of school students skipped class on Friday to take to the streets in about 60 cities across Australia to demand action on climate change as part of a global youth campaign.
At one of the largest protests in Sydney, the protesters held up banners with slogans such as “The seas are rising and so are we,” “You’re burning our future” and “There is no planet B.”
The students ignored calls from authorities to stay in class and attended the demonstration organized by the “Fridays for future” movement.
One of the leaders of the student movement, 15-year-old Vivienne Paduch, led the crowd of protesters in a chance of “the youth are rising, no more compromising.”
“We really want everyone to know that the fight for climate justice and the fight for climate action really is a global fight and involves equity for everyone,” Paduch told EFE.
She also urged Australia, the world’s largest exporter of coal, to “keep the coal in the ground.”
Along with high school and primary students, parents, politicians, singers and other activists joined the strike.
The mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, called for the use of 100 percent renewable energy by 2030.
“I support your strike and the strike of students around the globe,” Moore told the crowd.
“I support your strike as an elected representative, and I support your strike as a former teacher, knowing the importance of education, but knowing too that your future and the future of the planet is even more important,” she said.
Independent lawmaker Kerryn Phelps, who also attended the march, told EFE that the students were “speaking up for their own future because they believe their voices were not being heard,” and urged politicians and government to heed the students’ calls to take action.
Friday’s rally was Australia’s second student protest on climate change after the first held last November, which was inspired by Swedish student activist Greta Thunberg, who camped out in front of the Swedish Parliament last year to call for climate action.
After that first demonstration, the Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, urged students to remain in class, saying that “more learning in schools and less activism” was needed.
Australia pledged to reduce emissions by 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, but a recent UN report indicated that “there has been no improvement in Australia’s climate policy since 2017.”