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Strike action for school students

Buoyed by the support of the Augusta-Margaret River Shire council, student climate change activists are calling for residents to rally in Margaret River tomorrow.

Student organiser Maia Sheridan-Hulme said the student-led protest, from 11am at Reuther Park, would be one of many planned across the country demanding “climate justice”.

“We are in the midst of a climate emergency, and Australia has a critical role to play,” Miss Sheridan-Hulme said.

“As a prosperous nation, we have the capacity to transform so that our economy and our society are geared towards a sustainable, safe and just future.

“Australia could be a world leader in climate justice. Yet while we begin to see the effects of a climate breakdown … all we can see are politicians who put their self-interest first and people and corporations who place short-term economic benefits over the safety and future of their citizens.

“The effects of global warming will greatest affect the youth of today and the future.”

The movement comes as many young people believe governments are not interested in acting on perceived climate risks.

They want no new fossil fuel extraction, a commitment to 100 per cent renewable energy, and funding for the transition.

It comes amid emerging doubts about the viability of large-scale renewable energy projects in some sectors, with conservatives holding up South Australia as struggling to maintain electricity supplies with its renewable mix.

Year 10 student Rhya Hackett said the strike could help bring the community together.

“I show my full support for a school strike for climate and implore people to do the same,” she said.

As a backer of last week’s council motion supporting students and giving Shire chief executive Stephanie Addison-Brown a green light to allow officers to attend the rally, deputy Shire president Julia Meldrum said she would attend with her children James, 12, and Emily, 14.

“The world’s leaders have a fear of change, and these guys have a fear of no change,” she said.

Emily said it was important students showed world leaders how seriously young people wanted climate action.

“It’s stupid that we’ve come to the point where we are striking,” she said.

WA’s deputy director-general of public schools Stephen Baxter said he was encouraged by young people’s interest in the topic.

“It provides a relevant teaching opportunity to delve into the issue as part of a real learning experience,” Mr Baxter said.

“Of course, if kids aren’t in schools, we can’t teach them, and they’ll be marked as absent.”

The rally takes place three days before the United Nations Emergency Climate Summit in New York.

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