The fight for renewable energy to help speed economic recovery from COVID-19 is on, and the voices calling for it are getting louder.
Students from the School Strike 4 Climate are one group making demands, and they are preparing for their next protest, scheduled to happen on September 25, 2020.
The first strike since WA’s COVID-19 shutdown happened on Friday, August 25, and the group is hoping the next one will be bigger and better.
School Strike 4 Climate student protestor Matilda Lane-Rose says they were not expecting a big turnout for last Friday’s protest, as it started at 7am.
“All things considered the protest went really well. We had a turnout of about 20 to 30 people. The energy was really good, and it was quite nice to see people face-to-face again,” she says.
Ms Lane-Rose says in the light of COVID-19 they found it hard to plan and keep the team momentum going.
She says: “It was challenging for people our age to do school online, be stuck at home and plan a protest. Our previous efforts for the main September strike was slowed down a bit.”
Ms Rose says COVID-19 did put a big barrier in the way of getting things done.
“Regardless we are positive about the next strike, people are going to turn out no matter what happens.
“I am not confident that it would be tens of thousands, but it will be a fair amount because it is an issue a lot of people in our generation care about,” Ms Lane-Rose says.
MLC for the East Metropolitan region of WA Tim Clifford says these strikes are important and are an indicator that people deeply care about what sort of world they want to live in.
“It’s understandable that people are taking to the streets and protesting because a lot of them are bewildered at the lack of political leadership in the space.”
Mr Clifford says there has been a void of policy when it comes to dealing with the climate issue in Western Australia.
“The week before the lockdown I introduced the Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Bill 2020. By the year 2040 we would like to decarbonise 100 per cent and at least 50 per cent by the year 2030.”
He says these are the type of laws we need to be putting in place to ensure that we address the issue and he would like to see laws that hold industries to account.
“Last year the minister of mines, petroleum and energy announced an aspirational emission target which does not go far enough because it isn’t a hard target.”
He says they need to ensure that the industries driving the climate crisis pay for the damage they are causing.
“Overall, these strikes are a positive thing. People are not only pointing this issue out, but they are also getting involved in the political process. They want a positive change,” Mr Clifford says.
He adds that these students are showing more leadership than the federal and the state governments have shown in the climate space.
“Their actions are putting a lot of pressure on the industries that are polluting. They have sparked something that is not going to stop.”
Describing the protests as part of a broader movement that WA should be proud of, he says: “We need more people like these students in the political system and outside of it, making noise because their voice is making positive change.”
Student protester Ms Lane-Rose says it is nice to be legitimised by members of parliament: “It shows that what we’re doing is working are we are getting people to listen to us and say, ‘Hey, we see what you’re doing and we hear you’.”