'If they won't stand up for our future, we will': Thousands of kids turn out for Sydney climate change protests

Sarah Kimmorley/ Business Insider

  • Australian school children walked out of school in protest today.
  • The protest was directed at the government and its lack of action to prevent climate change.
  • “We’re here to make a difference, make a change,” they said.
  • Thousands gathered in Sydney, along with others across the country.
  • The local action was inspired by that taken by a teen in Sweden.

School children across Australia walked out of class on Friday to protest climate change.

Their message is aimed at federal government and politicians who they feel “won’t stand up” their future.

The “Strike 4 Climate Action” was inspired by a 15-year-old Swedish school girl’s activism, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, involves children from Australian capital cities and 20 regional centres such as Ballarat and Newcastle.

In Sydney, thousands were supported by teachers, parents and each other in the hope that their actions will start a wider movement.

“We’re here to make a difference, make a change,” one 14-year-old from Reddam House in Sydney’s Eastern suburbs told Business Insider Australia.

Her friend said: “I feel like a lot of Sydney, and Sydney’s adults are ignoring the problem. So we’re here today to show them that if they won’t stand up for our future, we will.”

Randwick mother Anna Thomas, who was at the protest as a chaperon for a group of a dozen year seven children, said the kids “decided to come on their own remit” and that they were attending “with or without us”.

“I have heard them talking, and they are really concerned about the lack of consultation with them as young people,” she said.

“They are really clear that they are inheriting what’s left of the politician’s decisions, and that really stands out for me as an important reason why I am supporting the children to come and have their voice.

“They want to be involved in big, long-term issues and that’s part of the democratic process. They were adament that they were coming today, we, the parents, really just came to make sure they were alright and safe.”

Since news of the protest broke today, some have suggested children are too young to know the details of such complex world issues.

But Thomas said the mass of students in Martin Place was proof that “the kids are really driven by this.”

“As adults we’ve got to stop and think, we’re not making decisions just for people our age. We really do have to start listening to these young people. They have a hell of a lot to say, and some of them are a hell of a lot smart than the people in parliament house,” she said.

“They are so clear sighted at this age. They can see the insanity — we get bogged down in all the decisions and all the finances, but the kids just go ‘Er, I’m sorry I need the air to breathe, I need the water, I need the trees. Where the hell are the koalas living?’ They’re just very, very fundamental questions.

“I reckon this movement is on it’s feet.

“It’s so good to see the young people in action. There are people out there who say they’re only interested in their computer games or social media. People give the young a stereotype, a bad reputation of being uninterested and this turn out today shows you that they are adamant that they want things to change and they want politicians to listen to thing.

“You can hear them now, shouting at the top of their voices. No one’s sitting down playing on their phone. There’s 100% attention and the kids are engaged.”

A group of four young boys from Orange Grove Public School in Lilyfield said this:

Boy 1: Climate change “is killing the polar bears”.

Boy 2: “And not just polar bears but also lots of other animals and species are dying because of us.”

Boy 3: Climate change “is going to sink all those islands and some countries will be underwater”.

Boy 4: “The world is going to be a wasteland.”

Boy 2 added: “I didn’t think there would be as many people here, but it’s definitely good.”

Boy 3 continued: “It gives you a bit of hope. And that if we try, we might be able to make a change.”

Here’s a look at some photos of the protest in Sydney:

Sarah Kimmorley/ Business Insider
Sarah Kimmorley/ Business Insider
Sarah Kimmorley/ Business Insider
Sarah Kimmorley/ Business Insider
Sarah Kimmorley/ Business Insider

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