Thousands of students march to demand urgent climate change action

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 9 Apr 2021, 7:30PM
Students march to Parliament calling for urgent action on climate change. Photo / Nick James
Students march to Parliament calling for urgent action on climate change. Photo / Nick James

Thousands of students march to demand urgent climate change action

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 9 Apr 2021, 7:30PM

Thousands of students gathered at Wellington's Civic Square this morning before marching to Parliament, demanding more urgent action on climate change.

Held for the first time since 2019, the protest is part of a nationwide movement of school students called School Strike 4 Climate.

Wellington protest organiser Seren Lewis said there had been a lot of build-up to this strike, especially as last year's could not go ahead due to Covid-19 restrictions.

"It's clear that our government is not doing enough, all these people here think so, it's not just a small minority."

The movement's key demands would be transitioning into a greener economy, and assisting Pacific nations to do the same.

"Our pacific neighbours are obviously at the forefront of climate change, they're going to be dealing with island submersion, sea levels rising," she said.

"There isn't a huge platform for them to raise their voices so it's about uplifting their voices and raising awareness for it."

The protest was part of a nationwide School Strike 4 Climate on Friday. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Hundreds of students gathered at the stairs at Civic Square, with hundreds flowing back towards the library.

Signs such as "last exit before doomsday" and "we're giving up lessons to teach you one" could be seen in the crowd.

High school student Rebecca Elder said the strike's demands included phasing out fossil fuels, investing in clean energy, implementing climate education in schools and de-carbonising the agriculture sector.

"We only have a limited amount of time left before the effects of climate change become irreversible – when the rise of global temperatures by 1.5.

"There's going to be drastic ramifications regarding sea levels rising, regarding crazy weather events."

Natasha Lenaston Bagnall said the "impending doom" of climate change was an issue their generation had grown up with.

"We want to fight to have our future and it's not being dealt with enough."

University student Teresa Davenport said climate change seemed like "the end of humanity".

"And the only solution we can see is to reduce our carbon emissions and we need to be doing that more urgently.

"The zero carbon act is rubbish. They think it's a solution but we need to step it up more."

Greens party leader James Shaw attended the rally outside Parliament and responded to questions about how the Government planned to tackle climate change.

He said climate disasters were occurring in Pacific nations "in ways that we're not seeing in Aotearoa" and New Zealand needed to support its island neighbours.

"We committed to 300 million and we're actually going to increase it to 500 million on climate-related aid, and we're going to increase that over the course of this year.

"We've also got to make sure that we've got the voices of Pasifika people in Aotearoa in our plans to reduce emissions and how we adapt to the effects of climate change."

He also supported a transforming of the curriculum to see climate change education imbedded into all parts of the school system.

"We're going to need people who are studying art and communicating about climate change through art.

"We're going to need engineers who are engineering the new future we'll be living in, we're going to need people who are builders and architects and who can create the next generation of housing and infrastructure.

"Every subject you're studying is involved in climate change … it needs to be in every part of our education system."