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Thousands of students to protest against climate change today

Thousands of students to protest against climate change today

Thousands of school students from Russell to Invercargill are expected to take to the streets today, as part of a worldwide protest against climate change.

Students preparing banners for the school strike against climate change. Photo: RNZ / John Gerritsen

The students want action to move the country off fossil fuels and on to renewable energy.

They accuse the government of not doing enough to stop global warming, and they are taking the day off school to show how worried they are about their future.

In Wellington, the protesters will rally outside Parliament, and in Auckland they will be gathering at Aotea Square.

One of the strike organisers, Year 13 student Molly Doyle said she believes the strike is the best way to create awareness of the situation.

Co-organiser Isla Day said young people could not wait until they were older to take action on climate change.

“We need to take more action on climate change now and a lot of that action is not going to come from trying to use the train rather than driving your car. We need to drive systematic change,” she said.

They have the support of the Climate Change Minister James Shaw, who met with students in Wellington on Monday.

“They’re feeling a bit of a backlash from the talk radio crowd and the adults who are being a bit defensive about this whole thing and they want to know from us that we’re listening, because the whole point of their strike is that adults have not been listening and governments have not been listening,” Mr Shaw said.

Mr Shaw is due to meet the Wellington students when they arrive on the steps of Parliament.

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Sophie Handford and strike organiser Molly Doyle Photo: RNZ / John Gerritsen

While the strike has divided MPs, the Māori Climate Commissioner Donna Awatere Huata is among those who are supportive of students and said she will be marching with them today.

“These young people they’re saying: ‘This is our future’. We’re talking an existential issue. We may not exist if we carry on like this,” she said.

Not all schools have been supportive of the strike, and students have been threatened with detention for truancy by some principals.

Other schools have organised class trips to the demonstrations.

A kura kaupapa Māori is among the schools supporting its secondary students to attend the strike.

The tumuaki of Te Kura Kaupapa o Ngā Mokopuna in Wellington, Rawiri Wright, says the kura supports its students going on the strike, as long as their whānau are aware.

He says the kura encourages its tauira to take part in what he says is an important kaupapa for rangatahi.

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