Thousands of students will be skipping school today in protest over Government inaction over climate change.
The students will be joining their counterparts from more than 90 different countries as part of a global campaign for climate change.
Taking place on a school day, the students have been met with mixed reaction, with some politicians encouraging them to rally, while others are insisting they should stay in school.
School Strike 4 Climate NZ organisers Sophie Handford and Raven Maeder joined TVNZ1’s Breakfast this morning to discuss the protest.
Raven said the pair are “expecting thousands of Kiwi kids” from 30 different communities across the country to “mobilise in response” to climate change.
“We’re really excited. We didn’t expect it to be such a huge thing, but it’s really taken off,” she said.
Sophie added, “And we’re not even aware of all of the events necessarily, so obviously, there have been lots of people who have come to us and kind of asked for some support, but we don’t even know. There could be more that we aren’t even aware of, so it’s very, very exciting to see how many people are gonna turn out today”.
Raven said the suggestion the strike was organised to get a day off from school was “quite patronising to the capacity of students to be educated members of society, and to be really passionate about issues that impact their future”.
“I think some of these comments have been quite out of touch with how big this issue is for our generation. It is the nuclear-free issue of our generation, and it will significantly affect our future so, you know, so the kids that are getting involved in this – they know what this is about and they’re determined to stand up for their right for a future on the planet.”
Sophie agreed, adding that the strike action gives students the opportunity to “play a key role in democracy,” noting that “so many people who will be coming along today can’t vote”.
Raven said the students would like to see a number of changes to be made in order to combat climate change, including the limitation of global warming “to 1.5 degrees, as per the Paris Agreement, which, in New Zealand, that means that we need to end all fossil fuel exploration.”
“We already know we have way more in our global reserves than we can afford to burn if we want to make that target, and we need them to start investing in renewables and energies of the future that will be around for our generation. We also need them to start taking action on agricultural emissions,” she said.
Sophie stressed the importance of safeguarding the next generation’s future by enacting change today, saying, “If our future isn’t safeguarded, then I don’t think they are doing enough … Our future will depend on the decisions that are made by our leaders today.”
“Right now, I have no idea if I’ll be able to live out my hopes and dreams when I’m 50, and I have no idea what my future’s going to look like, so we really think that until we see this kind of action, (not) enough is being done.”
Wellington will be the first to kick off the protest, beginning at 10am at Pacific Square, followed by strike action in Aotea Square in Auckland, and Cathedral Square in Christchurch.
For more information or to join the strike action, click on the School Strike 4 Climate NZ Facebook page, or send in messages of support on social media through #SS4CNZ.