Words by Sophie O’Shea, photographs by Coral Huckstep, Sophie O’Shea and Nikkola Mikocki-Bleeker
On Friday 20 September, hundreds of thousands of people gathered across more than 115 Australian cities and towns to call for action on global heating. We weren’t alone. The School Strike 4 Climate movement led by young climate activist Greta Thunberg was truly global, reportedly uniting around four million people who want urgent action addressing the climate crisis.
The School Strike 4 Climate Australia has three demands
1. No new coal, oil and gas projects, including the Adani mine.
2. 100% renewable energy generation & exports by 2030
3. Fund a just transition & job creation for all fossil-fuel workers & communities.
As an attendee at the Melbourne strike, I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of people who care so passionately about our planet. I stood in the Treasury Gardens and watched as a sea of people seemed to stretch on forever, in every direction; it was impossible to see the edge of the crowd. Marching through the streets of Melbourne felt surreal. We moved down Collins Street at a snail’s pace due to the number of people present, urged on by children – some of whom appeared younger than ten years-old – standing on top of tram stops leading call and response chants for ‘Climate Action Now!’
This was what struck me the most about the protest: the intelligence and passion that children and teenagers are showing in the face of the climate emergency. The signs they made were clever, using memes, pop culture references, smart wordplay and comical digs at some prominent figures to call upon those in power to listen to the science and act with urgency. These children are not our future leaders – they are leading now, and their vision for the planet is one I hope we can realise.
The Strike in numbers
The SS4C website provides the following statistics.
· Australia protesters numbered more than 330,000.
· Protests occurred in over 115 Australian cities & towns
· The numbers by major city:
o Melbourne – 100K
o Sydney – 80K
o Brisbane – 30K
o Adelaide – 20K
o Hobart – 20K
o Canberra – 15K
o Perth – 10K