Tens of thousands of students across the world are taking part in #schoolstrike4climate, a mass protest movement aimed at forcing politicians into action on climate change.

By Daniel Herborn

Posted on March 15, 2019

The US, UK, Germany, France and Italy will all play host to at least 100 climate strike rallies each. Sweden, the home country of Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old who started the #FridaysForFuture movement, also has more than 100 protests planned.

Massive #ClimateStrike protests in Australian cities

In Australia, dozens of satellite rallies have coincided with major actions in state capitals Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane and national capital Canberra. Tens of thousands of students attended the events in the major cities, which saw traffic re-routed and parts of the CBD closed down.

There were similar scenes across New Zealand, with students in Wellington blocking streets. In Christchurch, a rally was dispersed by police after a mass shooting at nearby mosques.

“Our Prime Minister wants us to do more learning and less activism,” local student Danielle Villafana-Pore told the crowd in Sydney, referencing comments Scott Morrison made in 2018.

“If you want less activism, maybe you should remove basic science from the curriculum, or maybe you could do your job.”

Morrison was one of a number of Australian politicians who have angrily lashed out at students skipping school for the protests. “Each day I send my kids to school and I know other members’ kids should also go to school but we do not support our schools being turned into parliaments,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said about similar protests in November 2018.

That round of protests also saw former Resources Minister Matt Canavan weigh in by saying the only thing children would learn from the protests was “how to join the dole (unemployment benefit) queue”, and that they should go to school “to learn about how you build a mine”.

New Zealand PM on young protesters: “it’s literally their future”

Other politicians have supported the young activists. Peter Garrett, the singer of Midnight Oil and Former Minister for Environment Protection, Heritage and the Arts, wrote on Twitter that the “patronising idiocy of climate deniers is contemptible”.

“I applaud the many courageous young Australians who will be out in force tomorrow,” his tweet continued.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has supported the strikes.

“I have said that climate change is my generation’s nuclear free moment – for them it’s literally their future,” she said.

“My message is simple, we hear you and we’re getting on with setting a path for carbon neutrality. Please keep bringing as many people as you can with you, because we simply won’t achieve our goals alone.”

The students at Australian sites have demanded the Adani coal mine in Queensland be scrapped, that the government commit to 100% renewables by 2030 and that no new gas or coal projects be allowed in the future.

#ClimateStrike founder urges students to continue strikes until politicians act

Thunberg said the students were “on the right side of history” and urged them to continue fighting for their cause.

“I don’t think decision-makers will get the message for a very long time,” she said.

Thunberg was recently nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for founding the movement which has quickly spread to more than 100 nations.

In late 2018, a report from the United Nation’s Climate Change body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), warned that the world would face rolling food shortages, widespread wildfire and dying coral reefs by 2040 if drastic changes are not made to mitigate global warming.

November 2018 also saw the release of the fourth National Climate Assessment, which predicted that climate change would cause widespread harm to human health, cause water shortages and reshape US coastlines. US President Donald Trump said he simply did not believe the report, despite it being prepared by his own government agencies.