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Striking people assemble in Sydney kymtje (@kymtje)
Protesters in Townsville joined more than 100 other Australian towns urging action on climate change.

Climate strike has kicked off on Friday 20 September across continents. Millions of people and students from Sydney to Delhi and Melbourne to London and New York have marched/are marching for urgent action on climate crisis.

Students and citizens of different ages and from different occupations have joined the strike in hundred of cities. Many mobilizations of people in cities were unprecedented in number. Observers called those historic.

The protests are part of a global strike movement led by a 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg.

The global day of action, led by Greta Thunberg, is happening three days before the UN Climate Change Summit in New York.

Countercurrents presents reports below compiled from media and readers.

The climate strike kicked off in Australia and the Pacific region.

Thousands of young Australians walking out of their classrooms to demand action on climate change have been joined by thousands more adults in cities and towns around the nation.

Australia’s Education Minister Dan Tehan said, “politics should be kept out of the classroom”.

Demonstrations were officially registered in all eight capital cities and 104 other towns across Australia.

Australian school protesters want the Federal Government to commit to:

  • No new coal, oil or gas projects.
  • 100 percent renewable energy generation and exports by 2030.
  • Funding for “a just transition and job creation for all fossil-fuel industry workers and communities”.

More than 2,500 Australian businesses have pledged to participate in the action, either closing their doors or allowing their employees to walk off the job.

The businesses signed on to Not Business As Usual, an alliance which said it was a “group of Australian and global businesses pledging to support worker participation in the climate strike”.

Tens of thousands turned out at The Domain in Sydney for the rally there.

There were reports of packed buses with students with signs coming into the city, with huge numbers marching through the CBD.

A strike rally in Sydney.
A strike mobilization outside Tasmania’s Parliament in Hobart.

The movement has been controversial in Australia, with some teachers being accused of bias and bringing politics into the classroom, and the Government linking the demonstrations to flagging test results.

In Hobart, thousands of protesters gathered at the lawns outside Parliament House.

Johanna Ellis, 21, said her workplace had closed for the day, “but we’re still getting paid to rally”.

Johanna Ellis left work to attend Hobart’s rally.

In Alice Springs, more than 500 people attended the climate strike in the Todd Mall, with school students making up a large portion of the crowd.

The protesters focused on affects of climate crisis on the Indigenous people in remote communities.

Speaking to the crowd, Barbara Shaw, Deputy Chair of the Central Land Council said it was getting warmer in remote areas, with the temperature reaching 50 degrees in some communities during summer.

“There needs to be an emergency on climate change, if they can have emergency relief for bushfires across Australia, or drought and flooded areas, there needs to be an emergency response on climate change,” she said.

In Alice Springs, a ‘die-in’ by climate crisis strikers at the Todd Mall.

Hundreds of people rallied in Townsville during the morning, many missing work and school in a peaceful demonstration.

“It’s our future and we care so much about our future and that is why we are here,” 13-year-old Ella Rizos said.

In Townsville, students used Dr Seuss to get their message across.

“Australia on track to meet targets”, claims Australia’s education minister

The protests have been spurred on by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released last year that detailed a catastrophic future of extreme weather events if greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were not reined in.

The UN released a report in February showing that the 20 warmest years on record had all been in the past 22 years.

Australia endured its hottest summer on record during 2018-19, according to the Climate Council, when more than 200 extreme weather records were broken across the country.

Australia is a signatory to the 2015 Paris climate agreement, the global deal to combat climate change, and pledged to reduce the country’s emissions by 26 to 28 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030.

A boat at Hobart’s waterfront joining the climate strike.

Australia’s environment minister Sussan Ley said if the purpose of the protest was to draw Government attention to climate change “I can assure everyone that our attention is already there”.

“We are taking real and coordinated global action on climate change, while ensuring our economy remains strong,” she said in a statement.

“We are on track to overachieve on our 2020 target by 367 million tons and our $3.5 billion Climate Solutions Package maps out to the last ton how we will meet our 2030 target.”

In a statement, Australia’s education minister Dan Tehan drew a link between the global strike movement and flagging test results around the country.

“While protesters will miss a third day of school this year, student results for Years 7 and 9 NAPLAN writing tests are below the 2011 test benchmark,” he said.

“Students should be active citizens but their education shouldn’t suffer as a result. Politics should be kept out of the classroom.

“The true test of the protesters’ commitment would be how many turned up for a protest held on a Saturday afternoon.”

An elderly caller suggested the children’s minds are being manipulated just like those of the Hitler Youth in Germany decades ago.

Warming to the theme, Jones had a Goebbels quote on hand. “I will remind our listeners that his minister of propaganda Joseph Goebbels also said it would not be impossible to prove with sufficient repetition and the psychological understanding of the people concerned that a square is in fact a circle. They are mere words and words can be moulded until they clothe ideas in disguise. This is what’s going on here isn’t it? Immensely disturbing I have to say. Immensely disturbing.”

Brisbane

The Brisbane rally keeps growing. People are still streaming in 30 minutes after the posted start time and police have had to shut roads on two sides of Queens Park. Hard to guess at a crowd figure, but comfortably over 10,000 at this point.

This is not, of course, an anti-government rally, but there’s certainly no love for the coal embrace of the Queensland government. And notably, there are at least a half dozen left-wing unions here.

The Electrical Trades Union has just taken a swipe, officials complaining the government has let the private sector do the heavy lifting on renewables, and giving a strong endorsement of climate action.

Meanwhile the Brisbane protest has broken its banks and people are streaming down the streets.

Ben Smee (@BenSmee)

Queens Park can no longer hold the Brisbane #ClimateStrike pic.twitter.com/FI4hzxSuuw

Drew Pavlou (@DrewPavlou) Brisbane #ClimateStrike

Delhi

Rebecca Ratcliffe in Delhi writes:

Student protesters in India have a long list of demands for their political leaders. The air in many of its cities is infamously toxic, poor waste management is putting lives at risk and water shortages have reached crisis levels.

Last year India was ranked among the bottom five countries on the environmental performance index produced by Yale and Columbia universities and the World Economic Forum.

“We are in September now and we would be usually subjected to monsoon rains at this time but the rainfall is so erratic,” said Jacintha Thota, 14, who lives in Hyderabad.

Hyderabad

On Friday 200 students from her school and some of their teachers are expected to march together. Hyderabad is one of tens of locations, including Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Bengaluru, where protests are expected to take place.

The Fridays for Future movement is much smaller than other more established environmental campaigns in India, but students say it is growing in popularity, thanks partly to social media.

In Delhi, protesters are planning seven days of action, which includes marching to the ministry of urban affairs and housing on Friday. On Sunday, protesters will meet at Bhalswa landfill, the second biggest dump yard in the city, while next week they will protest at other key political buildings.

Bhavreen Kandhari, an environmental activist from Fridays For Future India will take part. “We have beautiful laws on the paper but none of it is being executed,” she said.

Five years ago, when her daughters had an X-ray, she discovered the impact of Delhi’s pollution. “Their lungs were black in color; they should be pink. For a child who is born and brought up in Delhi for 10 years this is the damage that they suffer,” she said. Her twin daughters, 15, will also be attending the march in Delhi.

“The rich think ‘Oh I’ll put a mask on my child’, ‘I’ll get an air purifier’, and the poorest they can barely make two meals [a day].”

Thailand

Big turnout in Thailand – and a reminder that many of the protests in Asia will be kicking into gear soon as well.

A participant informed:

We are walking to the Ministry of Resources and Environment to demand a safe climate 🔥🌎#FridaysForFuture #ClimateStrikeThailand #ClimateStrike #ClimateEmergency pic.twitter.com/WzHUuEOESm

Melbourne

The Melbourne #ClimateStrike starts in Treasury Gardens soon. Fatima, 19: “Whatever we do in the next few months will decide what the future is going to look like.

“We can put our all in to switch to renewables and go down a greener path, or it’s going to be bad for everyone.” pic.twitter.com/JH704W6qD4

Dan Ilic (@danilic)

Some @lizzo vibes at Sydney climate strike. #schoolstrike4climate #sydney #sign pic.twitter.com/iHmoEbCedp

There’s already a crowd at Treasury Gardens for the Melbourne school strike which kicks off at 2pm. Thea Hamilton, 16, is one of the organizers.

“I’m really excited and hopefully we’ll be able to get some really good action out of this and get more people involved in climate action and climate justice,” she says.

She says young people “are looking for a space to be heard and to really feel represented by this global movement so we can call for climate action at the UN global climate summit on the 23rd”.

Sydney

In Sydney, Daisy, 17, tells the crowd their frustration has never been about people working in the fossil-fuel industry. Their demand is “about acting to halt this crisis while creating safe and meaningful work for all of us”.

The mobilization in Sydney was getting big till writing this report, which is visible only from the air.

Jonathan Pryke (@jonathan_pryke)

Other regions in Australia found similar mobilizations.

More photos from Lismore from Frewoini Baume:

They’re showing their passion in Lismore. Photograph: Freiwoni Baume

Marchers out in force in Lismore. Photograph: Freiwoni Baume

And these beautiful pictures from Katherine in the NT:

The crowds gather in Katherine. Photograph: Charlotte Pickering, Tom Browell and Alena Goldbach

 

And here’s Albury:

Dr Juliette Milbank (@juliettemilbank)

Good turn out for #ClimateStrike in #Albury pic.twitter.com/lEhazJ4Ofw

Perth and Canberra aren’t too shabby either:

Paul Castle (@SleeperPService)

Perth climate strike #ClimateStrike pic.twitter.com/aZO7SmBaZn

Simon Corbell (@SimonCorbell) writes:

Amazing to join colleagues and friends at #schoolstrike4climate in #Canberra today – proud of a community standing for a safe climate future @EnergyEstate pic.twitter.com/bHd4PIvj3i

The biggest strike Tasmania has ever seen

This is the third nationwide climate strike in Australia – after November 2018 and March 2019. They get bigger every time.

Phoebe Hosier (@HosierPhoebe)

Organizers say there are some 22,000 people at Hobart’s global climate rally – they say this is the biggest strike action Tasmania has ever seen @abchobart pic.twitter.com/CUGpg85V46

Amelia Neylon, 16, informs from the place of mobilization:

The crowd is reportedly over 22,000. Bob Brown at this count has said it is larger than the Franklin River rally. Making this the largest rally in Tasmania held to date.

It’s all happening.

Ben Smee (@BenSmee) Brisbane. #ClimateStrike

Alex Lee (@alex_c_lee)

Lots of babies at this protest. They don’t even have jobs! #ClimateStrike pic.twitter.com/q3J3MwFYPz

Nick Evershed (@NickEvershed)

Big turnout at Gosford #ClimateStrike (pic via my dad) pic.twitter.com/06ekkdErkR

The largest street protest in Hobart since the FRANKLIN River – 22,000 people demanding Climate Action Now #politas #ClimateStrike pic.twitter.com/xqjSlwN7Ci

Q to & A from EnergyAustralia

The following Q & A is an example of students raising voices:

EnergyAustralia has agreed to take a question from a climate striker. Along with Queensland’s Stanwell Corporation, it is the other one of Australia’s top 10 carbon emitters to agree to take a question.

Josh O’Callaghan, 15, from Adelaide asks:

What are the future initiatives that your company plans to put in place to have 100% renewable energy production?

Mark Collette, the head of EnergyAustralia’s customer business:

Thanks Josh. Designing and building a 100% renewable energy system is a huge challenge for Australia. I think Australians are up for the challenge. Your home state of South Australia has solar and wind already providing over half of the electricity supplied to South Australians.

In planning for 100% renewables, the first 50% is easier than the second 50%. Solar and wind generation follow the sun and the wind, so when it is not sunny and windy we can’t produce power for customers.

I reckon that above about 50% renewables for Australia we need to find ways to move the power from the sun and the wind to dark and still times, or use it immediately.

One way we do this is storage. Already we have two of the largest batteries in the country in Victoria, and we are working on two large pumped hydro projects – one of which is in your state of South Australia.

Another way we are exploring is helping customers use power when it is available from the sun and the wind. We can time pool pumps and hot water systems to run just through these times.

There’s a long way to go but we like tackling tough problems, like the second 50%.”


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