NZ schools strike for climate: everything you need to know

As part of a day of #schoolstrike4climate, demonstrations by young people calling for action on climate change, thousands of New Zealand students are expected to skip classes tomorrow. What’s going on, and where?

What and when?

Rallies and marches are planned around the country, kicking off a day of action around the world.

In Auckland, protesters will gather at noon in Aotea Square. There will be speeches and the rest.

Hamilton protesters are meeting at Gardern place at the leisurely hour of 2pm.

In Tauranga, there’s a 1pm call time at Red Square, the Strand.

Wellington protesters are asked to gather at 10am at Civic Square, after which a march will head down Lambton Quay to parliament.

In Christchurch protesters will gather at 1pm in Cathedral Square.

In Dunedin protesters are rallying at the Octagon from noon.

Events are also planned in Golden Bay, Kerikeri, Russell, Whangarei, Coromandel, Thames, Raglan, Mt Maunganui, Whakatane, Gisborne, Rotorua, New Plymouth, Taupo, Whanganui, Napier, Palmerston North, Masterton, Kāpiti, Lower Hutt, Nelson, Blenheim, Timaru, Wanaka and Invercargill. Get more details at the climate strike Facebook page (if Facebook is working, that is).

While the protesters will principally be secondary school students, organisers are welcoming participation by primary, tertiary and even pre-primary students. (More below.)

Supporting events are scheduled, too. In the protest hotbed of Point Chevalier, for example, the daily Pt Chev Primary Cycle Train (from 8am) is being devoted to an expression of solidarity with strikers, while the local daycare Collectively Kids is marching along Carrington Road at 10.30am. A Waihi kindergarten is getting involved, too.

The Spinoff will be following the protests as they develop. Send us your stories and pics to info@thespinoff.co.nz.

What are the demands?

The demands are in full are here, but can be summarised as follows:

  1. Pass a Zero Carbon Act that provides a clear path to carbon neutrality by 2050.
  2. Stop all exploration for fossil fuels.
  3. Regulate emissions from agriculture, which account for almost half of our emissions.

For an eloquent first-person account of the case for striking, read this by two high school students.

Who is for and who against?

It would hardly be a strike if it was endorsed by The Man, would it? Plenty of politicians, including opposition leader Simon Bridges, have questioned the value of the strike, reckoning it’d be better done on a weekend. Climate change minister and black-eyed Green James Shaw has been vocal in his support, and education minister Chris Hipkins has offered qualified backing, but said it’s up to individual schools to state their own positions. The Ministry of Education similarly says each Board of Trustees can make their own mind up.

The Secondary Principals’ Association’s position on the action responding to the most pressing threat to the health and safety of humanity is that it is a risk to students’ health and safety. Students who strike should be marked truant, they say. Police reportedly are concerned they haven’t been given enough information about what’s planned.

Duncan Garner and Mike Hosking think it’s all a dumb ruse for a day off. The children’s commissioner disagrees. Well over a thousand academics, teachers and researchers do, too.

For an argument from a student that a strike is not the answer, try this.

Are there any guidelines?

As luck would have it, there are. Organisers are welcoming students of all ages, including from kindergartens, but ask that under-13s are accompanied by a guardian.

They “encourage school strikers to make their own way to local strikes in groups and to buddy up on the day”, to ensure that “an adult, whether that be a parent, guardian or teacher, knows where you are”. Protesters are urged to be respectful to the public. Violence, damage, littering and expressions of hate or discrimination, they say, are unacceptable. And: “We expect anyone taking the day off to do so in good faith to attend the strike.”

Read the “guidelines for involvement” here.

Alex Casey has collected tips on protesting from the New Zealand veterans of the art, here.

What about the rest of the world?

New Zealand is one of an estimated 92 countries in which students will be striking, with more than 1,600 separate events registered with the German organisation Fridays for Future.

This extraordinary movement was sparked by 16-year-old Swede Greta Thunberg, who last September began a weekly vigil on the Swedish parliament calling for a dramatic upscaling of action on climate change.

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In a speech at COP24, she said: “I’ve learned you are never too small to make a difference. If a few children can get headlines all over the world just by not going to school, then imagine what we could all do together if we really wanted to.”

And there’s a song …

Via School Strike 4 Climate


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