We are facing a climate emergency. Through the School Strike 4 Climate, children and young people, who will pay the greatest price for climate change inaction, are finding their voice and demanding that politicians start showing leadership in responding to this global crisis.
Alexa (my 15 year old daughter) is helping to organise Newcastle’s action as part of the next Australian school strike on the first Friday of Term 2 (3 May). The students are calling for the national election, 15 days later, to become a #ClimateElection and demanding that our politicians think beyond the next election and consider the impact of their decisions on future generations.
The last Student Strike saw around 150,000 people attend rallies around the country making it one of the largest, if not the largest, climate action in Australia. The student organisers are calling on everyone to come out and support them on Friday 3 May to make it even larger.
The student strikers may be too young to vote, but they are making themselves impossible to ignore and are ensuring climate change is kept in the spotlight as a major election issue.
The average age of the 2019 federal members of parliament is 52. In 50 years, most of them will be dead, but the consequences of their inaction on climate change over the last few election cycles will continue to impact the students of today.
The student strikers have every right to be concerned about the current political debate.
We have a Prime Minister who once brought a lump of coal into Parliament to criticise the Oppositions commitment to renewable energy. We have a Government with a number of climate change deniers who actively undermine action on climate change. The former Prime Minister, who is still an influential member of parliament, recently alleged that “The so-called settled science [of climate change] is not quite as settled as people say” and warned against “a futile green gesture.” The Government has recently approved Adani’s Carmichael coal mine, a massive mine situated right near the fragile Great Barrier Reef..
The Opposition is also weak on climate change action. Although there is no public debate in the Opposition about the reality and impact of climate change, their policy response gives little ground for hope. They lost government partly because of they introduced a price on carbon (which the then Opposition falsely labelled s a carbon tax) and now refuse to consider reintroducing one. (Their leader has stated, “There will be no carbon tax, carbon pricing mechanism, or government revenue.”) They have also refused to stop the Adani coal mine.
I recently watched a TEDx talk by Greta Thunberg, the Swedish high school student who started the international movement by striking every Friday.
Towards the end of the talk (9:24) she makes a very powerful statement.
Now we’re almost at the end of my talk, and this is where people usually start talking about hope, solar panels, wind power, circular economy, and so on, but I’m not going to do that. We’ve had 30 years of pep-talking and selling positive ideas. And I’m sorry, but it doesn’t work. Because if it would have, the emissions would have gone down by now. They haven’t. And yes, we do need hope, of course we do.
But the one thing we need more than hope is action. Once we start to act, hope is everywhere. So instead of looking for hope, look for action. Then, and only then, hope will come.
In a powerful speech to the UK Houses of Parliament she closed with the following:
We children are not sacrificing our education and our childhood for you to tell us what you consider is politically possible in the society that you have created. We have not taken to the streets for you to take selfies with us, and tell us that you really admire what we do.
We children are doing this to wake the adults up. We children are doing this for you to put your differences aside and start acting as you would in a crisis. We children are doing this because we want our hopes and dreams back.
Our children deserve action. In making decisions about who you will vote for, I urge you not to focus on your short-term interests but to think in the long-term. Take a stand for the children and young people who cannot yet vote, but who will be so affected by the decisions of the people we elect. If we do not take dramatic action on climate change now, we condemn the next generation to paying the environmental, social, health and economic costs.
This is not a plea to vote Labor or the Greens but a plea to vote for people who will take strong action on climate change. If you have a Liberal party candidate who wants a much stronger stance on climate change, vote for them. It is time for climate change to move beyond party politics and for it to be treated as the crisis it is.
Please support School Strike 4 Climate and help make this a #ClimateElection.
If you liked this post please follow my blog, and you might like to look at:
- Climate change: we need to clean up after ourselves
- Blue Men: Message to Humanity
- The paradox of inconsequence
- Consumption and the Transition movement
- A statistically representative climate change debate
- 10 ways to reduce your consumption
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