Students at schools across Australia are walking out of classes in a mass protest against climate change, defying orders from Prime Minister Scott Morrison to abandon the strikes.
Sydney-based site News.com.au describes “incredible scenes” as striking students filled public spaces in the nation’s major cities, shouting slogans and carrying signs with messages including “I’ve seen smarter cabinets at Ikea” and “we’ll be less activist if you’ll be less s**t”.
Hundreds of youngsters have assembled outside Parliament House in Canberra, and are demanding to speak to Morrison and government ministers about the dangers of global warming, as part of the four-day protest against climate change.
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Morrison had previously warned students not to skip class. “What we want is more learning in schools and less activism in schools,” he told MPs during Parliament question time on Monday.
“We don‘t support the idea of kids not going to school to participate in things that can be dealt with outside of school.”
Neverthless, on Tuesday Australia’s Senate narrowly passed a motion backing the walkout, with Green party senators Jordon Steele-John and Mehreen Faruqi casting the deciding votes. Strikes began immediately and have been taking place all week.
“We’ve got involved because at this stage we can’t vote, we’re not politicians and we want to make a difference,” Jean Hinchliffe, a 14-year-old student who staged a strike in Sydney, told The Guardian.
Protests are also being held in towns and cities including Melbourne, Perth and Hobart.
The walkouts were the brainchild of School Strike 4 Climate Action, a student-led group that is urging the Australian government to halt fossil fuel projects and transition to 100% renewable energy by 2030.
The group’s website includes an absence template letter that students can download and ask their parents to sign before handing it to their teachers.
In an email to CNN, the group’s leaders dismissed the PM’s objections. “Maybe if the people in power like Scott Morrison listened to the climate scientists and took action to stop dangerous climate change then we wouldn’t have to resort to all become climate activists,” they said.
“People’s lives are on the line. It’s time to act before it’s too late.”
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