Canberra students take climate strike protest to Parliament House

Jimmy Hollo and Rosie Brady joined over 70 ACT students on the lawns of Parliament House on Friday to demand action on climate change. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong
Jimmy Hollo and Rosie Brady joined over 70 ACT students on the lawns of Parliament House on Friday to demand action on climate change. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Rain wasn't going to stop student protests to demand action on climate change. After all, many of those who attended thought rain would be the least of their weather worries in coming years.

"We've been through the fires earlier this year, the hail, all the extreme weather, we can deal with a bit of rain," Rosie Brady, 16, said.

A crowd of about 70 school students gathered with placards on Friday morning on the lawns of Parliament House for the Schools Strike for Climate protest.

The rain held off to give the protesters enough time to set up their posters but shortly after it started to pour. Students remained resilient and chanted their calls while the adults sought refuge in marquees that had been set up.

It was a far cry from last year's global day of action in September, which saw about 15,000 Canberrans attend a protest at Glebe Park.

But the COVID-19 pandemic meant this year's protest had to be more subdued.

"With the COVID-19 restrictions we have modified the action from what we would usually do," Rosie said.

"We've got protest posters outside of Parliament House where we can all be socially distanced and wear masks."

Rosie, who helped organise the protest, said those who wished to attend had to sign up so they could monitor numbers. Students ranged in ages and came from different schools.

"There are students from more than a couple of schools here, we have people of different ages, many different years, so we have got a good range of people here," she said.

There were about 500 "COVID-safe" actions held across Australia and thousands more were expected around the globe.

The movement, inspired by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, saw students strike from school to demand action on climate change.

Australian strikers had three main demands. These were the government should aim for 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030, for jobs to be transitioned out of the fossil fuel sector and that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander solutions be adopted to guarantee land rights and care for country.

Jimmy Hollo, 14, was particularly critical of the federal government's choice to pursue a gas-led COVID-19 economic recovery.

"Our main message is so Australia is the sunniest and windiest country on Earth, so we could very easily get all the energy we need from renewables," he said

"Following this COVID lockdown era it would be the perfect time to put that into action to get 100 per cent renewable by 2030. Unfortunately the government is going to take a different path.

"[The government] is taking the path of a gas-led recovery using fossil fuels and if we use fossil fuels now we will most likely never get to 100 per cent renewables, so we really need to put the renewables into action right now."

The ACT Greens lent their support to the protest and released a statement saying they would ensure an ongoing policy that the minister for education endorsed every school-led strike for climate protest.

"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," ACT Greens leader Shane Rattenbury said.

This story Canberra students take climate strike protest to Parliament House first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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