There's no doubt that climate change is one of the most formidable challenges facing human civilization at this moment in history. While some governments have moved to address it head-on, others have gone a different direction. And in at least one case, this has angered the people who will be around the longest to feel the effects of those policy decisions. In Australia, students are striking for climate change action — and those in government aren't exactly pleased with the movement.
The movement is called School Strike 4 Climate Change, and its leaders have set a specific day for when Australian students should walk out of their classes to protest what they view as their governments inaction on environmental issues. Instead, their website states that participants should take part in whatever way suits them best.
"Kids across Australia are striking from school throughout November. Some of us are striking for a week, some for a day, some for half a day. Others are striking a day a week throughout November," the movement's website reads. "You should do whatever works best for you."
The student who began the whole thing, according to BuzzFeed, was Milou Albrecht, a 14-year-old from Bendigo, a town in southeastern Australia.
Albrecht told BuzzFeed that she got the idea to strike from Greta Thunberg, a student in Sweden who, as The Guardian reported, went on strike for several weeks in order to call attention to what she saw as the government's slow response to climate change. Albrecht had begun by joining the #StopAdani protest against a coal mine being built in northeastern Australia, but the focus of the student strike has since become broader.
In Bendigo, the strikes started at the beginning of November, with students skipping school to march down to their member of parliament's office, according to the Bendigo Advertiser.
“I don’t think children get to have a say at all in what the government does, and we’re the ones who will have to live with the consequences,” said Sigrid Doolan, a 13-year-old student, speaking with the Bendigo Advertiser.
While BuzzFeed reported that the striking students had gotten mixed responses from the members of parliament they went to speak to on their strikes, the response from Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was not favorable.
"We don’t support the idea of kids not going to school … for things that can be dealt with outside of school," Morrison said in Parliament.
School Strike 4 Climate responded to Morrison's statement in a tweet, saying "You're not dealing with it so we're striking!"
Despite protests from the students and others and international reports emphasizing the gravity of the situation, Australia has not yet committed to stop its mining and use of coal. According to The Guardian, Australia is particularly reliant on energy from burning coal — which, according to Green America, is the energy source that releases the most greenhouse gas into the atmosphere when it is burned.
Despite comments like the prime ministers, the strikes have continued across Australia.
"We're at the stage where we can't vote and by the time we're in power, it's going to be too late to start making change," said Sydney student Jean Hinchcliffe, according to BuzzFeed. "So I think it's really important that we can start taking action in any way we can."