Students Skip School to Fight Climate Change

By Anders Hellberg

In August 2018, outside the Swedish parliament building, Greta Thunberg started a school strike for the climate. Photo CC BY SA (c) Anders Hellberg

Ditching school is no lighthearted prank for thousands of serious students around Australia, who will give up a day of education on March 15 to join millions of school kids worldwide to protest adult inaction on climate change.

Policies and action taken to address climate change now will greatly affect future generations of the world and will determine the intensity of environmental destruction all over the globe, as outlined in recent UN IPCC reports.

Students around the country will be on the streets lobbying for more government action on climate change in order to protect their futures.

Grace Vegesana, the NSW state coordinator of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, is a university student who is supporting schoolkids to co-ordinate the huge march planned for Sydney.

The only way to solve the climate crisis is through a huge, diverse and committed social movement, led by those with the most at stake, so that we can see just and sustainable solutions to the climate crisis realised,” she says.

The school strikes were motivated by the actions of Greta Thunberg, a sixteen-year-old girl from Sweden who began to skip school on Fridays in hopes of communicating the urgency of climate action.  

“Every Friday, we will sit outside the Swedish parliament until Sweden is in line with the Paris Agreement,” Thunberg told her Twitter followers.

The 2015 Paris Agreement set targets for emissions, mitigation, adaptation, and finances starting in 2020 in order to prevent a 2°C rise in global temperatures.

But climate change action extends far beyond simply being an environmental issue.

Nicholas Stern, the British economist who published the Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change in 2007, wrote that “climate change is a result of the biggest market failure the world has ever seen.”

Many scientists believe we may only have 12 years to make significant change that will prevent catastrophic climate change that will lead to severe economic, political, and environmental ramifications.

Through events like the School Strike 4 Climate and other social movements, students hope to communicate the importance of both individual and collective action in the battle against climate change.

“While the power of personal choice has massive impacts on the environment in the long run, it is the power of the individual as part of the collective pushing for change that will solve the climate crisis,” says Vegesana.

The thousands of kids around the world who agree will push their governments to realize the urgency of climate action and the consequences that will follow if no policy change is made in the near future.

Because the legal voting age in Australia is 18, these school students are petitioning for adults and politicians to vote to preserve their futures.

“It’s us in 2040 that will experience that 1.5° of warming,” Vegesana said.


Makena Frederick
12 March 2019

This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 220 news outlets to strengthen coverage of the climate story.