Hundreds of school students have protested outside the prime minister’s official Sydney residence as part of a global day demanding action on climate change.
The student-led climate strikes took place in cities, suburbs and regional towns across Australia, and aimed to call on the federal government to divert funding away from coal and gas projects and to clean, renewable energy.
Much of the attention of Friday’s strike was directed at Prime Minister Scott Morrison, with a large crowd of protesters arriving at Kirribilli just before lunchtime.
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Organisers estimate the crowd swelled to about 3000, and NSW Police said there were about one thousand demonstrators there.
“It was great to see so many people turn up to Scott Morrison’s house, to really bring home the message that we need climate action,” student Owen Magee told AAP.
“It was very full and packed.
“There was people as far as you could see around the streets around Scott Morrison’s house.”
One student Ella O’Dwyer-Oshlack lost her home in the devastating Lismore floods, and addressed the crowd.
“My home was flooded and our whole town is a mess,” the 13-year-old said.
“I haven’t been able to go back to my school since it was flooded.
“Why is the federal government still giving money to fossil fuel companies? This is making the problem worse.”
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Mr Morrison said his government had “taken the challenge of climate change seriously”, and encouraged young people to take a keen interest in the issue.
“I encourage them, by all means, express your view, it’s a great democracy, and I have no issue with that,” he told reporters on Friday.
“We’ve committed to net zero by 2050 with a $21 billion plan, which is being rolled out now.
“It’s not enough for Australia just to reduce our emissions by 20 per cent, as we already have done. It’s not enough for Australia to achieve net zero by 2050.
“The whole world has to.”
The protests come after the Federal Court found the Australian government does not owe children protection from the harm caused by climate change.
The court last week upheld an appeal by Environment Minister Sussan Ley, reversing a decision that legally recognised she had a duty of care.
The appeal came after eight high school students took Ms Ley to court in 2020 to try to block the expansion of a NSW coalmine.