24 Feb 2019

Backing for NZ students to abandon classes over climate change

10:36 am on 24 February 2019

The Māori Climate Commissioner says she has no qualms about encouraging schoolchildren to strike for action on climate change.

Students from different schools raise placards during a protest rally for climate change awareness at Martin Place in Sydney

Students in Sydney walked out of classes in December to hold a rally on climate change awareness. Photo: AFP

Thousands of school students around the world have been staging regular strikes in a bid to push politicians to act aggressively on climate change, and on 15 March some New Zealand students will do the same.

Donna Awatere-Huata says anyone who thinks that's irresponsible should think harder.

"The world is melting, the Arctic, the Antarctic, our own glaciers are melting, the oceans can't take much more of the greenhouse gases.

"These young people they're saying: `This is our future'. We're talking an existential issue. We may not exist if we carry on like this."

Ms Awatere-Huata says she will be marching with them, and calling for an end to government inertia.

She says the world is essentially in meltdown, and the impact of a few hours off school pales in comparison to the likely impact of climate change on the lives of today's children.

Strike against climate change. Fridays for the climate. Youth march with Greta Thunberg in support of the French students. Girl with megaphone. Paris, February 22, 2019.

Students in Paris march to demand greater action on climate change. Photo: AFP

The demonstrations are part of a broader grassroots movement started by Swedish student Greta Thunberg, 16, last year. Students in Germany, Switzerland, France, Britain and Australia have followed her lead and also skipped classes to protest.

Ms Thunberg took her protest to last month's World Economic Forum in Davos to galvanise leaders meeting there to action.