'These kids are taking charge of their future' - Universities support climate strike

10:44 am on 3 September 2019

Victoria University of Wellington has joined Lincoln University in endorsing a strike by students at the end of September.

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Photo: RNZ / Jordan Bond

The strike on 27 September is part of a global week of action coinciding with the United Nations' Emergency Climate Summit in New York.

Both are encouraging their staff and students to take part and neither will need to take annual leave nor explain their absence if they do so.

The move comes ahead of a plan due to be announced by the Victoria university on how it hopes to reduce its carbon footprint.

Victoria University vice-chancellor Grant Guilford told Morning Report the students are taking charge of their future and the university needs to support them.

"To us it's rapidly becoming clear that the school pupils are the adults in the room on this issue and our politicians are a long way behind with their naive and bickering behaviour. These young people are taking civic action as young leaders and taking more responsibility for their own destiny," Mr Guilford said.

He said there's no bigger lesson young people could learn in life.

The Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association asked the university for support if students wished to join the march.

"It would be irresponsible not to support them."

He said unless we rapidly de-carbonise the world's energy supply, life will not continue as we know it, he said.

"These young people that are at school now are going to suffer very severe consequences from a violent and unstable climate and from ocean acidification and the impacts that it will have on marine ecosystems. We'll see infectious diseases, we'll see droughts and floods putting food security at risk. We'll see climate change rising sea levels displacing 200 million people the most of whom live in the big deltas of the Asia-Pacific, our big trading partners.

"It's the adults that are being irresponsible risk takers with our climate, not these young leaders."

Staff at the university are also supported to go if they choose to, unless they are in the timetable to give a lecture or tutorial at the same time. In that case they would need to make arrangements so the class can still be held.

All lectures need to be recorded on the date of the march for those students who are at the march.

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