On March 15, New Zealand school students led a global day of strike action on climate change. Grace Wilkie and Libby Morrison explained then why they were taking the day off school. They’re doing it again today, and this is why.
Today students all around New Zealand will be striking for the climate again. As two of the organisers, one question we’ve been asked near constantly is “why strike again?” We’re striking again to raise awareness around the issue of climate change, as well as to get the attention of the government and those in power to accept our four demands:
– That the government acknowledges the magnitude of the climate crisis by declaring a climate emergency. This move will set the narrative for the urgent pace at which we need to act on climate change, but must uphold our democratic systems and obligations under Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
– That all parties in parliament support passing an ambitious zero carbon act into law that puts into place a legally enforceable plan to get to carbon zero by 2040.
– That the government ceases all new exploration and extraction of fossil fuels, including not granting extensions on existing permits.
– That the government invests in building a renewable and regenerative economy now. This includes immediate investment in retraining and the provision of alternative jobs in clean, sustainable industries that do not harm the ecosystems on which we depend for survival.
With the lack of substantial change (despite a zero carbon bill being announced, this is still only a promise of action, not an actual action), we, as the young people that will inherit this world, are finding ourselves struggling to place faith into the adults that are currently in power. With the lack of climate action in the past, we are left to be the ones calling for change, and calling for society to wake up and make a difference.
It is interesting to see the way the way that adults have reacted to these youth led protests. Where in the past they have called out youth for being lazy or complacent in their position in life, now when youth show an interest in being involved in activism of any kind, it is twisted on its head to be something to dismiss, something that no longer holds any value. It seems overdone, a phrase pushed past its use-by date, but we are all doing this for our futures or lack thereof.
To think of a world in 10 years that has hit the 1.5 degree rise in temperature and is irreversibly damaged is a genuinely scary one. We have an obligation to all the children in the world currently, and to all the children to come in the future, to do something to change that.
Another point to be made is the huge community of young activists that has risen from the cracks. We can only speak for the Auckland community but the amount of people that show up to meetings or poster runs or contact us in order to help is astounding. A whole demographic has been shoved down and had their voices silenced just because of their age.
Now, when given the chance to speak up, they’re all showing up. Those numbers only increased after the last strike, showing the power of protests and youth and using our voices. The government and those in power can no longer ignore us for we are pushing back, and they must acknowledge that if they want to stay in power or be considered for holding power, that we are the future voters, the future leaders, and we will one day hold power, too.