On Wednesday 23 September, High School students participated in a virtual protest against the funding of fossil fuels to stimulate the economy in COVID recovery efforts. The protest, organised by SchoolStrike4Climate (SS4C), the co-ordinators of the widespread strikes calling for climate action last year, is occurring in response to the leaked draft report for the National COVID-19 Co-ordination Commission. The report details a planned taxpayer-supported $6 billion pipeline connecting the eastern states to the Western Australian gas markets, along with the subsidisation of gas-fired power plants and makes no reference to the environmental impact of the investments.
The demands of the protest are; no public funding for gas or fossil fuel projects, with recovery funds to be spent on:
- Resourcing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led solutions that guarantee land rights and care for country
- The creation of jobs that fast-track solutions to the climate crisis and help communities recover
- Projects that transition our economy and communities to 100% renewable energy by 2030, through expanded public ownership
The protest involved students, workers and First Nations communities across Australia who gathered in small groups to demonstrate their opposition to this plan and to fossil fuels. The SS4C hopes to hold Australian leaders accountable, bring awareness to the impact of insufficient climate action and push for the creation of jobs in sustainable industries.
Climate change is an increasingly imminent threat to our planet and our future. As the next generation, we are inheriting a planet in which species are becoming extinct at an increasing rate, sea levels are rapidly rising and the five warmest temperatures of the planet ever recorded have been between 2015-2019.
In the past, Emanuel School has been supportive of student participation in the climate strikes, understanding the importance of the need for climate action. The involvement in the movement provides an opportunity to present a united front, embodying one of the school’s core values – Tikkun Olam (repairing the world). Last year, SchoolStrike4Climate organised two climate strikes, but in accordance with COVID-19 regulations, a new approach was implemented. Instead of one large rally, communities around Australia gathered in small groups, dressing in yellow (to unify the photos) and posted photos to social media.
To display our support for the SS4C movement and opposition to the funding of fossil fuels, the Emanuel Sustainability Committee organised a yellow-themed plain clothes day and a program for High School students. Students were assigned small groups in which they were provided time to design and decorate posters, being encouraged to feature the slogan ‘Fund Our Future Not Gas!’, among other phrases to demonstrate their support for climate action and environmentally friendly COVID recovery. Photos from the protest were submitted to the SS4C Australia media page to contribute to the greater online movement.
The Sustainability Committee, consisting of eight Year 11 students, has been working this term to encourage school engagement in environmental issues.
Passion for sustainability and support of the strike
“I think it’s crucial that the next generation inherits a healthy planet. We are under an immediate threat, yet there is still very little action. The SchoolStrike4Climate provides an opportunity to express our opinion and hopefully create change.” Jacob Rose
“I joined the Sustainability Committee because I believe that all great movements start small and we can make a significant difference by focusing on Emanuel’s individual impact, through which we’ll set an example for the Jewish and Australian communities.” Lara Fosbery
“Climate change is such an important issue, not just at Emanuel but everywhere. I joined the Sustainability Committee so I can improve Emanuel and make it a more eco-friendly school.” Ari Merten
By Lara Fosbery and Jacob Rose, Year 11