‘Step back, see the bigger picture’ – Students strike for climate change

Tens of thousands of primary and secondary school students went on strike this month in cities across Australia against politicians’ inaction on climate change.

It was the second such strike since November, and police estimate up to 70,000 people attended the Melbourne protest outside the Old Treasury Building alone. 

Students held signs which read, ‘Make love not CO2’, ‘ScoMo we have FoMo on our future’ and “Not even Marie Kondo could clean up this mess” and called Liberal MPs “fossil fools”.

The 2018 Lowy Institute Poll shows a majority of voters believe climate change is a serious and pressing issue. School Strike 4 Climate’s website says, with the Federal Election around the corner, our politicians have lost touch.

Year 12 student, Nyah Shahab, 17, from Swinburne Senior Secondary College wanted to get involved in School Strike 4 Climate following her experience fighting for the rights of refugees and asylum seekers with Melbourne Youth with Refugees.

Her icon is 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who started the first School Strike in 2018 and was last week nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. 

Nyah said, while climate change was an issue that was close to her heart, it should be important to everyone as it affects all of us.  “It’s  just not really something I wanted to sit by and watch happen without doing anything about it,” she said.  “The people that I surround myself with that I love and care about and everyone in my generation, we shouldn’t really have to grow up to live in a world with an unsafe climate where it’s just really not viable for us to live safely.” 

As one of the MCs, the highlight for Nyah was when she took the stage.  “It was just this moment of realising what we’d done and how many people we’d managed to get to come along and do something for our climate,” she said.

Seventeen-year-old Laura Kelly, who is in year 12 at Kardina International College, organised the Geelong strike which drew 300 to 400 people.  “We weren’t expecting that many; at the first strike we had around 50 so that was such an improvement,” Laura said.  

Laura led the march from local MP Richard Marles’ office to the Town Hall.

Mr Marles said young people in Geelong had every right to be angry about what he believes is a matter of inter-generational justice.  “Their future is being squandered by a government who bury their heads in the sand with neither the capacity nor the political courage to respond to the challenges facing our planet,” the Labor MP said.  

Laura said the first step was for politicians is to recognise that climate change is a problem “I do hope these strikes have made them realise that very soon all of us will be voting,” she said. “A lot of people, especially politicians and critics, have the inability to step back and see the bigger picture.” 

School Strike 4 Climate’s media team did not respond to requests from D*scribe for an interview with the organisers other than to say that the students are the organisers.

According to their website, School Strike 4 Climate claims to be nonpartisan, although their demands mirror the Greens’ policies.

They have criticised the Prime Minister Scott Morrison for his comments after the November protests, when he said: “What we want is more learning in schools and less activism.”

Compare the major parties’ climate policies


  • 23 per cent renewable energy by 2020
  • Reduction of emissions to 26-28 per cent of 2005 levels by 2030
  • Investment in renewables increased by 150% in 2017
  • Record 11 billion spent in 2018 on clean energy (7th in the world)
  • Snowy Hydro 2.0 will be the largest battery in the Southern Hemisphere and will produce enough energy to power half a million homes
  • We beat our Kyoto target by 128 million tonnes and will beat our 2020 target by 294 million tonnes
  • $2.55 billion to help farmers and businesses reduce emissions
  • Businesses have committed to reducing 190 million tonnes of emissions (at the cost of $12 per tonne, in comparison with Labor’s carbon tax which reduced emissions by 12 million tonnes at $1,300 per tonne)
  • $1.1 billion loans and grants for projects including electric cars
  • $200 million investment in clean energy
  • This year is the biggest year for new renewables projects and rooftop solar installations
  • Australia is in the top 10 countries for investment in renewables
  • Investing $2 billion together with QLD government for the Great Barrier Reef
  • Over $2.2 billion for Antarctic science and research
  • Invested over $300 million for threatened species
  • Culling of feral cats
  • Appointment of the first Commissioner for Threatened Species
  • $5 million Threatened Species Recovery Fund
  • $1 billion for Landcare together with the Nationals
  • Provided $50 million to halve food waste by 2030
  • $5 million to clean up marine debris in the Great Barrier Reef and $4 million for Pacific countries

For more information, visit their website.


  • 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030
  • 1 million household battery installations by 2025
  • $2,000 rebate for 100,000 households earning less than $180,000 per year for household batteries
  • Continuation of the coal mining industry
  • $10 million Clean Energy Training Fund to train power station workers for the future
  • A Just Transition Authority to help workers find jobs in nearby power stations and coal mines and redundancy schemes for when their workplaces close
  • Double the investment in the Clean Energy Finance Corporation which builds solar and wind farms
  • An Energy Security and Modernisation Fund to upgrade our energy networks and build new ones
  • An Energy Productivity Agenda to help businesses improve productivity and efficiency

For more information, visit their website.


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