School students across the world are starting to protest against their governments, asking them to take climate change seriously. One of the movement’s strongest emerging icons is 15-year-old Swedish activist, Greta Thunberg, who skips school every Friday to sit outside her country’s parliament, demanding that Swedish leaders align themselves with the Paris Agreement.
In an interview with the Guardian, she said, “If burning fossil fuels threatened our very existence, then how could we continue to burn them? Why were there no restrictions? Why wasn’t it illegal to do this?”
“When school started in August this year, I decided enough was enough. Sweden had just experienced its hottest summer ever. The election is coming up. No one was talking about climate change as an actual consequence of our way of life,” she added.
During the interview, she cited studies to prove how emissions in countries like Australia and Sweden can thwart development projects in poorer countries and worsen the climate crisis globally, thereby asking students in Australia to come forward too.
“Countries like mine and Australia must start reducing our emissions dramatically if we believe in equality and climate justice,” Thunberg said.
On December 4, 2018, she also communicated her grievances to UN secretary general Antonio Guterres so that he takes necessary action to curb the problem.
Around the same time, on November 30, 2018, thousands of high school students from Australia decided to go on a national strike to draw government’s attention to the consequences of coal-based emissions in the country. After facing severe criticism from the prime minister, a bunch of high school students from Townsville, Melbourne and Brisbane traveled to Canberra to confront him.
— AYCC (@AYCC) December 4, 2018
As pointed out by Thunberg, Australia is one of the biggest exporters of coal in the world. However, Australian policymakers want to allow the Adani business group to operate one of the country’s largest coal mines, which definitely won’t be good for the country’s emissions or the planet at large.
These protesting students have asked policymakers to help the country transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, with special focus on keeping the Adani group at bay – by shouting ‘Stop Adani’ in parliament.
Holding space in Parliament House to stand up for our future and climate justice. We are calling on all politicians to #StopAdani, end all new coal and gas and get us to 100% RE. This is what democracy looks like. #FightForOurFuture #ClimateStrike pic.twitter.com/fNki5cbODs
— School Strike 4 Climate (@StrikeClimate) December 5, 2018
They kicked off their movement with a website called ‘school strike 4 climate change’ in early October, sparking off a national student movement against climate change. Over 15,000 students went on strike from school in every capital city and 20 other regional centres across Australia just in November.
While world leaders and other adults squabble over whether climate change is real or not, teenagers and children across the world are starting to take matters into their own hands – climate change is real and they want their governments to do something about it.