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2 October, 2020

School strikers call for renewable COVID recovery

A group of Cairns school students and community members left school and work to hold a “School Strike for Climate” demonstration on Shields Street last Friday, September 25.

By Tanya Murphy

They donned construction attire and wind turbine props to call on the government to invest in building new renewable energy projects. 

Along with students there were First Nations communities, unions, and everyday Queenslanders using speeches, live music, and signs to spell out their message to politicians: 

“Fund our future, not gas.” In September last year, an estimated five million protestors at 4500 strikes across 150 countries, including 3000 protestors in Cairns, left school and work for the global climate strike initiated by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. 

But last week, with a COVID-19 limit of only 30 people for this year’s strike, the student organisers came up with creative ways to amplify their message. 

“What you see at the physical gathering is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of participants,” said James Cook University student Holly Farnan. 

“Since we had to limit our numbers at the physical protest this year, we put a strong focus on online and individual action such as social media participation, zoom events, calling politicians, and creating artwork to send to politicians.

” With more than 400 protests registered across Australia it was the nation’s most widespread day of action against gas in history. 

“We are calling for the all candidates in the Queensland election to say no to the Federal Government’s destructive plans to give billions of COVID-19 recovery funds to new gas projects, and instead invest in Queensland’s potential as a renewable superpower,” said Ms Farnan. 

“Gas is a dangerous fossil fuel that’s fuelling climate change, and there are very few jobs in gas, so spending public funds on gas is a waste of money that is also putting my future at risk. 

“Renewables are the cheapest form of energy and would create thousands of jobs. “A clean recovery will increase employment opportunities for Australian workers locally, provide safer cleaner and more affordable electricity to Australian families and protect the future of Australia from the devastating effects of the climate crisis.

” Year 11 student Ava Shearer spoke at the event and said kids had a right to a safe future. “The next Queensland government has an opportunity to do the right thing for our communities and my generation’s future through investment in renewable energy owned by Queenslanders, creating thousands of meaningful jobs with great conditions that would also help tackle climate change,” she said. 

The day was organised by the School Strike 4 Climate network and supported by the Australian Youth Climate Coalition.

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