Australian school children are striking for climate: here’s why

By Angela Heathcote 2 November 2018
Reading Time: 3 Minutes Print this page
A group of teenagers from country Victoria are hoping to inspire climate-change action across the country.

CUTTING CLASS MAY seem uneventful to your average teenager, but for 15-year-old Greta Thunberg, it’s a protest. The young Swedish girl has been striking outside of the Swedish parliament, following the country’s hottest summer on record this year.

Every day for two weeks she sat by herself, handing out leaflets that read, “I am doing this because you adults are shitting on my future.” And now, she’s inspired Aussie teenagers to do the same: hold a school strike for climate change.

“We read an article about Greta Thunberg, who is striking in front of the Swedish parliament. We were so inspired by that. We thought, it’s an even harsher climate where we live,” 14-year-old Harriet O’Shea Carre and 14-year-old Milou Albrecht from Bendigo, Victoria said.

“We decided that doing this school strike was more important than going to school at the moment.  If we don’t do something urgently about climate change, we’re not even going to have a liveable planet to use our education in.”

Milou Albrecht, Harriet O’Shea Carre and Nimowei Johnson.

The first strike by the group happened yesterday, when the temperatures in Bendigo hit a scorching 34°C. They sat outside their Federal Senator, Bridget McKenzie’s office for the entire day, playing cards and chess, and drawing with chalk. They’ll be doing the exact same thing today.

Following this, their next strike is planned for Wednesday 6 November. Then, on the 30th of this month, they’re going to join together with kids from all over the state of Victoria for a big demonstration. “We’re hoping kids from all around Australia will join the movement and strike in front of their local or Federal politician’s offices any day they like.”

school strike for climate

The strike outside of Bridget McKenzie’s office yesterday.

According to the recent International Governmental Panel on Climate Change report, there is as few as 12 years left to keep temperatures below 1.5°C, after which the global environmental, social and economic implications would be severe.

The area where Harriet and Milou live – country Victoria – was badly affected by the 2009 Black Saturday Bushfires. And it’s predicted that Australian summers will become particularly unbearable. “In summer we are already terrified that we will lose everything in a horrific bushfire and we can’t imagine what it could be like for the generations that follow after,” Harriet and Milou said.

The IPCC report has prompted urgent calls from various parts of the community to cut carbon emissions and ramp up the transition to renewable energy. Many have been critical of the lack of response from the Australian Government.

“We feel both disillusioned and unsatisfied by our politicians action on climate change,” Harriet and Milou said. “We have trusted our politicians to do what is in the best interest of our country and futures, and to us it seems clear that they are not doing either of these things when it comes to the climate emergency.”

The teenagers are hoping that the school strikes will encourage politicians to acknowledge that climate change is a crisis.

“We want them to not fund any new coal mines, and close down all the old ones.  We want them to invest in renewable energy. We want them to deal with climate change as an emergency. We want them to listen to the climate scientists and to the public and to the kids, because we are going to be living in this hot world for way longer than them.”