Sydney students attend School Strike 4 Climate, defying govt demands

Crowds gathered outside Sydney Town Hall in George Street for the School Strike 4 Climate on Friday, 21 May, 2021. Photo: @news-xiao/Twitter.

By STAFF WRITERS

Several thousand young people have defied NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell to gather in Central Sydney to call for action to halt global warming.

The School Strike 4 Climate protest went ahead in George Street outside Sydney Town Hall yesterday despite inclement weather and the education minister’s demands that students stay in school.

Covid-19 marshals were scattered throughout the crowd, brandishing QR codes for attendees to sign in with, and distributing masks and hand sanitiser.

Preethika Mathan, from Santa Sabina College in Strathfield, summed up the sentiments of the rally, telling the crowd: “We’ve all heard someone say, ‘You’re going to die of old age.’ We’re going to die of climate change.

“We feel like we’re on the frontline of the climate crisis, in the sense that we’re the first generation who will feel its impacts. We have to live through this,” she said.

Protestors hold placards at the School Strike 4 Climate, Sydney, Friday, 21 May, 2021. Photo: @strikeclimate/Twitter.

Protest organisers made three main demands of the federal government: that no new coal, oil and gas projects are approved; that Australia adopts 100 per cent renewable energy generation and exports by 2030; and that governments fund the creation of secure jobs which fast-track climate crisis solutions.

Students chanted slogans against the gas, coal and fossil fuel industries, as well as the Morrison Government’s recent decision to fund a $600m gas-fired power plant approximately 150 kilometres north of Sydney, near the Hunter Valley town of Kurri Kurri.

The Sydney rally was one of more than 40 held in towns and cities across Australia, with organisers claiming more 50,000 people attended nation-wide, including several thousand each in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide.

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg tweeted footage of the Sydney rally and declared her support

“Huge climate strikes today across Australia. Tens of thousands of people. Soon the rest of the world will join in,” she wrote.

The school strike for climate movement began in August 2018 when Thunberg began staging protests outside the Swedish Riksdag (parliament), holding a sign that read “Skolstrejk för klimatet” (“School strike for climate”).

Since then, thousands of school strike for climate events have attracted millions of people in more than 150 countries.

The Australian rallies are the largest to have been held so far this year, with much of the world under stricter Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions. 

Video footage of the School Strike 4 Climate rally in Sydney, Friday, 21 May, 2021. Video: Ruptly/YouTube.