Australian youth rise-up for climate justice

Students have been walking out of schools across Australia, highlighting Government failure to act in the face of potentially catastrophic climate breakdown. Started by School Strike 4 Climate Action, and supported by the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, young people are demanding climate justice and tougher, quick action on climate change. Organic conviction, born out of a threat to their very futures has seen tens of thousands join the movement during November.  Actions have been coordinated in over 20 major towns and cities, with young people descending upon federal Parliaments and taking over public space to demand change. Perhaps we could all learn a thing or two about mobilising for climate justice from these students.

What started with a spark 8,500 miles away in Sweden – with the sole action of Greta Thunberg – has inspired a full-blown movement that’s sending shockwaves across Australia. Government ministers have been so taken aback by students downing textbooks in such large numbers that they’ve felt the need to publicly intervene, with the Prime Minister stating “What we want is more learning in schools and less activism”. It is this very activism that is so worrying for those presiding over the climate crisis. These school kids have grown up in a world filled with uncertainty, environmental destruction, and consistent failure of government to address the crisis. They have lost the trust of an entire generation.

A major component of the mobilisation has been the unequivocal anti coal messaging centred around one of the largest coal projects in the world, the controversial Adani coal development in Carmichael, Queensland. The almost £10b project has suffered from delays for 6 years, with the project having to be scaled down amidst pulled funding and continued resistance. However, Adani have strongly signalled determination to pursue the project, stating the company will self-finance. Federal Australian government has also faced questions regarding back-door funding to prop up the project.

Somewhat unexpectedly for Adani, the resistance to their environmental destruction has manifested amongst the tens of thousands on school strike. Living their formative years in a time of climate chaos, these young people have at the same time witnessed their government’s seeming unwavering support for the continued pursuit of coal-derived corporate profit while their very futures are at risk. Breaking away from the orthodoxy of the school system, does this movement have the potential to unleash a wave of renewed and sustained resistance against fossil capital? Perhaps witnessing the conviction of kids fighting for their lives and the future of the planet – but with a refreshing optimism – can be the spark to ignite many more fires.

~Jake Woodier


Image: School Strike 4 Climate