18 Jun 2019

Students who organised school climate action planning general strike

2:47 pm on 18 June 2019

Students who organised the school climate strikes are planning even larger collective action that they hope to involve the wider population in.

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Students marching in Wellington during the first student climate change strike in March. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Globally, groups are getting ready for "Earth Strike" - a general strike of the population demanding for immediate climate action from governments and corporations - in September.

A general strike involves the majority of workers from a city, region or country taking industrial action.

In New Zealand, School Strike 4 Climate is leading preparations.

Sophie Handford from School Strike 4 Climate said: "Climate change affects will not just affect young people, it affects us all. To recognise the significant threat it poses to all our futures, livelihoods and very existence we are calling on all New Zealanders to join us and stand in solidarity on 27th September for urgent action on the climate crisis."

The two school strikes for climate - in March and May - attracted about 17,000 people according to Ms Handford, and gathered national attention.

"We will be encouraging students to bring their parents along and for the general population to get involved as climate change is an issue which puts our collective future at risk.

"It's not just the work-force we're encouraging to join us, it's retired people, parents, grandparents, community members. This issue concerns all of us and our home."

School Strike 4 Climate was in contact with other groups to ensure the strike had the biggest impact possible, she said.

A spokesperson for climate action group 350 Aotearoa said: "Our team are committed to act as allies for School Strike 4 Climate NZ and will take lead from the students for the general strike.

"The key organisers for the strikes in Aotearoa will be School Strike 4 Climate ...[we] will work to support [it] and engage with our networks to engage non-students in the strikes."

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Students take part in climate strikes in Nelson in May. Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

During the week of the strike a range of environmental action is planned.

"Because there is also an International strike on September 20th, communities across New Zealand will be organising actions throughout the week, leading up to Friday September 27th," Ms Handford said.

"We are leaving it open to different towns to work out what's going to be best for them. Some may decide to hold a tree planting event one day, do an in school event one day, a beach clean-up afters school the next."

Communities across the country would strike in their area, Ms Handford said.

"We have around 40 regional organisers and we are expecting this number to grow, as it [did] leading up to the climate strikes on both 15th March and 24th May."

School Strike 4 Climate planned to release more information about the strike soon.

School Strike 4 Climate's goals:

  • We demand that the government acknowledges the magnitude of the climate crisis by declaring a climate emergency. This move will set the narrative for the urgent pace at which we need to act on climate change, but must uphold our democratic systems and obligations under Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
  • We demand that all parties in Parliament support passing an ambitious Zero Carbon Act into law that puts in place a legally enforceable plan to get to zero carbon by 2040.
  • End fossil fuels - we demand that the government ceases all new exploration and extraction of fossil fuels. This includes not granting any extensions of existing permits. This must be paired with government's investment in renewable energy production and sustainable transport systems to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.
  • We demand that the government invests in building a renewable and regenerative economy now. This means immediate investment in retraining and the provision of alternative jobs in clean, sustainable industries that don't harm the ecosystems on which we depend for survival. This must be done through meaningful partnerships with communities, Tangata Whenua and youth to ensure a just transition and that no one is left behind.

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