DOZENS of students across Port Macquarie replaced their pens with placards for two hours on Friday to demand action from the Australian government on climate change.
They walked to Cowper MP Luke Hartsuyker’s office with a message – the decisions made today affect their future and the time for change and good decision-making is right now.
The movement, School Strike 4 Climate Action, is inspired by a 15-year-old Swedish student, Greta Thunberg, who started boycotting classes before parliamentary elections in her nation on September 9, and continues to skip school every Friday.
Students in each state capital and across 20 regional Australian centres followed her lead and walked out of their classrooms to tell politicians that climate inaction is not good enough.
Spokesperson Patrick Rudd is hoping Mr Hartsuyker, who was not in his Port Macquarie office on Friday, will arrange to meet with them and show his support for their concerns by raising the issue for discussion in parliament.
The students not only participated in national action, but joined students from across the globe in calling on all governments and communities to take climate change seriously.
“It’s clear that politicians are not doing enough to address climate change because the impacts are getting worse."Patrick Rudd
Their efforts were met with mixed reactions from the public, with prime minister Scott Morrison openly stating there was no place for activism in the classrooms.
“Today we joined tens of thousands Australian students striking from school to demand climate action,” Patrick said.
“This is what we want – no Adani mine. Adani plans to begin building its mine as early as before Christmas.
“If the government cares about our future they will deny him access. So far they have chosen not to.
“They have knowingly chosen to support a cheaper electricity source at the expense of our future.
“We want no new coal or gas mines and 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030.
“We want the government to start prioritising the world’s future over their profits and that of their donors, the coal and gas lobby.
“It’s clear that politicians are not doing enough to address climate change because the impacts are getting worse.”
Student Francesca Plentinger said the signs of a changing climate are obvious.
“Climate impacts are growing in intensity. We’ve had bushfires in winter and NSW and Queensland is gripped by crippling drought.
“Yet our politicians want to help billionaire coal companies like Adani build massive new coal mines which will only make climate change worse.”
Climate Change Australia Hastings campaign member Harry Creamer praised the students for finding their voice.
“What we expect in a democracy is for our own governments to have our backs. The coal industry, from mining to burning in power stations, is the single biggest driver of global warming, leading to dangerous climate change, on the planet. It is past time to end it, here in Australia and in all nations,” Mr Creamer said.
Labor candidate for Cowper Andrew Woodward praised the students for sharing their voice.
“I think it is awesome how local students and parents got behind this day of strike action. It is great to see children taking a stand about the world they will inherit,” Mr Woodward said.
“I shouldn’t have been shocked by Scott Morrison’s put down the children and their parents. He simply doesn’t get it.”
Luke Hartsuyker was contacted for comment.