Thousands of students around Australia and around the world will put down their schoolwork today to strike against government inaction on climate change as a part of the global School Strike 4 Climate initiative.
The protests follow Brisbane’s first climate strike in March, which saw more than 150,000 strikers around Australia, including students and non-students, take part alongside 1.5 million strikers around the world.
Today’s strikes will take place in 100 cities around Australia.
Young Australian protesters are demanding a more adequate response to climate change from the government.
According to School Strike 4 Climate, this includes wanting no new coal, oil or gas projects, wanting funding to help workers from fossil fuel industries transition into new trades, and wanting as 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030.
The Brisbane strike will begin at 1pm in Queens Park and will move through the city before assembling in Musgrave Park in South Brisbane for a program of speakers and performers.
Greens MP for Maiwar, Michael Berkman, is actively encouraging residents from his electorate to attend the event and will also be attending with his family, closing his office early so his staff can participate.
“The global strike on the 20th is a powerful opportunity to demonstrate just how deeply committed our communities are to protecting this planet,” Mr Berkman said.
“We are already feeling the impacts of climate chaos, and things will only get worse,” he said.
“As a parent, and someone deeply concerned about the impact that climate change will have on our most vulnerable, marginalised communities, I know we must do everything we can to get governments to act.”
Organisers are predicting record crowds will attend the Brisbane strike, with nearly 4000 people registered to attend on the Facebook event and another 6000 registered as interested.
Timothy Harm will be attending as a member of The Pacific Climate Warriors, a grassroots movement and network focused on amplifying the voices of people on the frontlines of climate action in the Pacific.
Mr Harm said the group aimed to mobilise the Pacific communities in the fight for climate justice and to push for government action.
He said at this afternoon’s strikes they would be standing in solidarity with First Nations people at Musgrave Park.
“We want to change the narrative of what it means to be on the frontline of climate change,” Mr Harm said.
“I think a lot of the time the media like to play this narrative that Pacific Islander people are victims of climate change,” he said.
“Although we are, I think we are very resilient towards it.”
“With our Climate Warriors grassroots movement, we have this saying that goes ‘we are not drowning, we are fighting’,” he said.
Mr Harm said he was pleased with how the conversation on climate action had progressed since the first Climate Strike in March.
“The conversations have changed, and I think a lot of people are louder in terms of what is happening for climate action.”
Jordan Gartner is a university student, an Ipswich local and an active member of the Stop Adani movement, who will be attending the Brisbane strike.
Ms Gartner said she believed the strike was more important than ever due to the current climate emergency, but also because the strike started as a school student movement and she strongly believed in the need to support youth.
“There is a complete lack of wanting to be informed and wanting to be involved from older generations, so I feel like the more we [young people] strike, the more awareness we can raise,” she said.
Ms Gartner said she was pleased that her place of learning, Griffith University, was supporting her and her fellow students in their initiatives, and said she would be marching as part of the contingent of Griffith University Greens.
She said while she had hope for the future, change needed to happen now.
“Climate change isn’t something that is this abstract reality, it’s a real tangible thing that we are feeling now and we will definitely be feeling more in the future,” Ms Gartner said.
“And I think that being so caught up in the political nature of it is detracting from real tangible scientific endeavours that we could be embarking on now to actually mitigate the effects of it,” she said.
Organisers are encouraging people of all ages to attend with their family and friends, to fight on the frontlines of climate action.
For more information visit www.schoolstrike4climate.com.