5 Apr 2024

Climate strike expected to attract thousands

6:59 am on 5 April 2024
Wellington Climate Strike 3 March

Protesters at the climate strike in Wellington, on 3 March, 2023. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

From Whangārei to Invercargill, more than 100,000 people are expected to take to the streets in Friday's climate strike.

But it is not just about the climate crisis - the event is led by a coalition including Toitū Te Tiriti, Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa, and School Strike 4 Climate.

Whangārei Girls' High School student Ciara Elliot will be striking to send a message to the new government.

"The strike is really important to us as young people," she said.

"With the new government that's rolled in, and all the policies that they're proposing, which are kind of like low-key ruining the environment, we feel it's really important for us young people to share how we feel about climate issues, and a great way for us to get recognised, you know, is the nationwide strike."

Marlborough Girls College student, and spokesperson for School Strike 4 Climate, Alex Phelps, said the strike was for all ages.

"This strike is intergenerational," she said. "We want everyone of any age coming - if you're old, if you're young - we want everyone to be there and we're happy to support everyone who comes."

School Strike 4 Climate spokesperson Nate Wilbourne, from Garin College in Nelson, said it was not just for the climate, either.

They have six demands: To keep the ban on oil and gas exploration, halt the fast track approvals bill, toitū te Tiriti o Waitangi, climate education for all, lower the voting age to 16 and "free Palestine".

"Rather than it just being a climate strike, like traditionally, we're focusing on the intersectionality of all of these issues," Wilbourne said.

They wanted to send a clear message to the government that it was time to listen up, he said.

Green Party co-leader Chlöe Swarbrick said it was a resurgence of the school strike movement pre-Covid-19.

Chloe Swarbrick

Green Party co-leader Chlöe Swarbrick Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

"They're back with a vengeance on the basis of this government's agenda, which is focused on tearing up progress that has been made on climate and enviornmental on te Tiriti and social grounds," she said.

While the Minister of Climate Change Simon Watts said he would not be attending the strike, he shared some of same frustrations as those who were protesting.

"What we're going to see, no doubt, is many people out there calling for greater commitment in regards to how we deliver on our climate change targets," he said.

"We're only 80 months away from 2030, yet we have not inherited a viable plan to meet our commitments from the previous government."

Watts also agreed there needed to be more education around climate change, but he said he could not speak on the other demands which were not part of the climate change portfolio.

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