Protesters march during the School Strike 4 Climate rally at Flagstaff Gardens in Melbourne, Australia, 17 November 2023. EFE/EPA/JAMES ROSS AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT

Thousands of students protest against Australian climate inaction

Sydney, Australia, Nov 17 (EFE).- Thousands of Australian students skipped classes on Friday to take to the streets in nationwide protests against the government’s inaction against global warming.

Protesters hold placards as they march during the School Strike 4 Climate rally in Sydney, Australia, 17 November 2023. EFE/EPA/BIANCA DE MARCHI AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT

Protesters hold placards as they march during the School Strike 4 Climate rally in Sydney, Australia, 17 November 2023. EFE/EPA/BIANCA DE MARCHI AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT

“We are sick and tired of coming here year and year again, fighting for the same demands, fighting against a government that doesn’t listen to us,” said a 16-year-old strike organizer in a speech outside Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek’s office in Sydney, according to a livestream of speeches broadcast by School Strike 4 Climate.

While holding signs reading “Don’t be a fossil fool,” “There is no Planet B” and “I can’t see my future,” the students recalled that Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was elected in May 2022, ending nine years of the conservative government, because he had promised to take decisive action against the climate crisis.

The Labor government, which seeks to become a powerhouse in renewable energy, has already legislated for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to 43 percent by 2030 (up from the previous target of 26-28 percent), as part of a plan to achieve net zero emissions in 2050.

Despite these advances, many scientists and activists believe that Australia must achieve net zero emissions by 2035, as well as prohibit new fossil fuel projects and put brakes on the mechanisms that allow companies to offset their emissions, among other actions.

Another Sydney speaker pointed out that young people do “care about our education,” but were protesting because they felt “anxious” and held “not a lot of hope” for their futures due to the inaction of leaders – a message also seen in other protests such as the biggest one in Melbourne.

Many of the students who attended the protest, the fifth in recent years, obtained symbolic “sick notes” issued by self-described “climate doctors” David Karoly of the University of Melbourne and Nick Abel of the Australian National University, giving the students “permission” to “take a sick day for a sick planet.”

The letter argued that they were “unfit due to a major health concern” with symptoms such as “increased anxiety from the Australian Federal Government’s ongoing climate policy inaction,” as well as “elevated stress from seeing the impacts of the climate emergency now in Australia and worldwide,” and “feelings of despair due to the disregard of leaders who won’t have to endure the future they’ll leave behind,” Australian public broadcaster SBS quoted on Friday.

Australia, one of the biggest polluters on the planet if its fossil fuel exports are taken into account, is facing increasingly severe climate events such as bushfires, severe flooding and mass cora bleachings. EFE

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