Climate Action Protest Students Not Done Yet

Climate action school student protest

Image via School Strike For Climate Action

15,000 Australian students went on strike from school in each capital city and more than 20 regional centres across Australia recently. There’s more action to come, but this time outside of school hours.

The School Strike For Climate Action event held on Friday demanded politicians stop Adani’s Carmichael coal project in Queensland, put an end to new coal and gas, and to work towards 100% renewable energy by 2030.

Prior to the strike, Prime Minister Scott Morrison criticised the action, stating:

“… what we want is more learning in schools and less activism in schools.”

Resources Minister Matt Canavan was also unimpressed:

“The best thing you’ll learn about going to a protest is how to join the dole queue.”

Liberal backbencher Craig Kelly said the protesters would be better off foregoing ice creams and burgers.

Peta Credlin, who was once chief of staff to then-Prime Minister Tony Abbott and is now a political commentator, wondered what children are being taught in schools.

“If they learnt more science they might even ask if we really want cheap power and low emissions, why are we ruling out nuclear power, or the new High Efficiency Low Emissions coal fired stations?,” stated Ms. Credlin.

Well, perhaps they have learned a thing or two. So-called “High Efficiency Low Emissions” (HELE) coal fired power stations aren’t all that efficient or low in emissions – and nuclear power has its own set of significant problems.

Criticisms such as the above aside, it seems the students were well-supported by the Australian public. Various reports indicate the students were generally well-behaved and while there may have been a few misspelled (and some would say distasteful) placards about the place that helped feed critics’ views, the action made people sit up and take notice – both here in Australia and overseas.

Australia Not On Track To Reach Emissions Target

The students’ charge that the Australian Government wasn’t doing enough on the issue of climate change and renewables appears to have been vindicated last week, when a United Nations report warned Australia was not on track to meet its emissions target. Under the Paris agreement, Australia needs to reduce emissions by 26-28 per cent on 2005 levels.

More School Strike 4 Climate Action Planned

Further incensed by the news that a scaled down version of Adani’s Carmichael coal mine was set to proceed, the School Strike 4 Climate Action campaign is just getting started.

Marches are planned for this Saturday in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. It’s not just the Federal Government primarily in their sights this time around:

“To members of the Labor Party who were convinced this mine wouldn’t get off the ground: it’s time to wake up,” states the event description. “Building on the power of the epic school strike, together we’ll march for our future around the country and demand the Government and Labor commit to stopping Adani before it’s too late.”

While Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is still skeptical that Adani’s project has legs, her challenge of “I’ll believe it when I see it” won’t be of much help if it actually proceeds. Even if it doesn’t, another coal threat recently emerged that will see Australia’s reputation of being the Typhoid Mary of coal’s damaging effects sustained.

The proposed China Stone project, situated adjacent to Adani’s, is a large-scale, greenfield coal mine with a yield of up to 38 million tonnes of thermal coal per annum. The project recently gained approval from Queensland’s coordinator-general.

It was a smart move by School Strike 4 Climate Action organisers to schedule the next action on a non-school day. The goodwill of Australians supporting the original strike may have been severely tested if the marches were to occur on another school day so close to the last. It will also be a test of the resolve of students – was Friday’s action just a flash-in-the-pan, or will the initiative evolve and mature into a force to be reckoned with?

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

Comments

  1. Warwick Sands says

    I am heartened by the activities of these children – Australia and the world needs to act. I am ashamed that so many people deny the need to change.

  2. These young students will soon inherit the world we are destroying.

    I am so heartened to see their peaceful activism to try and motivate our disfunctional current government to show some interest in climate change and renewables.

    These you g students will play an important role in shaping the policies of our next government in these important areas. Stopping Adarni and fast tracking the move to renewables are worth fighting for.

  3. Geoff Miell says

    Hi Michael,

    You say:

    “While Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is still skeptical that Adani’s project has legs, her challenge of “I’ll believe it when I see it” won’t be of much help if it actually proceeds.”

    Posted on Dec 1 online at the SMH is an article by Cole Latimer headlined “Adani coal mine hinges on a rail line in doubt”. The article begins with:

    “Adani may have to spend more than half of the $2 billion slated for its Queensland mega-coal mine on rail lines alone if it is to get its shipments to ports.”

    IEEFA economist Tim Buckley told Fairfax Media:

    “The rail numbers alone don’t add up, the cost of rail is likely to be north of $1.2 billion”

    There’s three weeks to go before Christmas 2018, so we will soon know whether Adani is true to their recent announcement, or they are all talk and no action. See the AFR article by Mark Ludlow headlined “Adani to self-fund $2b Carmichael mine, construction to start before Christmas”, dated Nov 29.

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