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Australian students strike against government funding for gas industry

CommoditiesMay 21, 2021 05:57AM ET
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4/4 © Reuters. Students participate in a "School Strike 4 Climate" rally, demanding action on climate change, in Sydney, Australia, May 21, 2021. REUTERS/Loren Elliott 2/4

By Paulina Duran

SYDNEY (Reuters) -Thousands of Australian students skipped school on Friday and gathered with climate activists to call on the government to stop funding the gas industry, taking aim at Prime Minister Scott Morrison's plans to fund a new gas plant.

During the event dubbed "School Strike 4 Climate" (SS4C), tens of thousands of students congregated across some 50 Australian cities and towns, organisers said.

"Today, together with tens of thousands of my fellow let-down Australians, I am striking from school to tell the Morrison government that they must stop throwing Aussie cash at gas," 16-year old organiser Natasha Abhayawickrama said in a statement.

Many local businesses also closed for the day to join the rallies, which are demanding that the government halts funding for gas and coal projects and invests and creates job in renewable energy instead, the organisers said.

Australia's conservative government has promoted gas to help fuel the economy's recovery from a COVID-induced recession, despite calls from climate experts, green groups and the International Energy Agency to stop new fossil fuel investments.

Gas is also seen by the government as key to Australia's energy transition, as it is cleaner than coal and can fuel flexible power plants to back up wind and solar generation. This week, Australia committed A$600 million ($468 million) towards a new gas-fired power plant.

Photos posted on social media at noon from Sydney, Hobart, Adelaide, Perth and Melbourne, showed youths and activists holding placards reading "#FundOurFutureNotGas", and "Clean energy solutions not coal and gas pollution".

"A bit of rain won't stop us," Sydney mayor Clover Moore tweeted, adding "we won't stop until the Federal Government gets serious about climate action."

One of the world's largest carbon emitters on a per capita basis, Australia has resisted global calls to commit to a target of net zero emissions by 2050, citing the risk of damage to the economy.

Instead, Australia is investing in technology to meet its Paris Accord commitment to cut carbon emissions by 26%-28% below 2005 levels by 2030, including $418 million to develop carbon capture and hydrogen projects.

State government officials in New South Wales, the country's largest state, had urged students to stay in school, to little effect.

"We shouldn't have to be here, we should be in school," said Nabilah Chowdhury, another event organiser in Sydney. "But the government just won't listen. They refuse to take action so it's up to us to fight in order to protect our future."

($1 = 1.2898 Australian dollars)

Australian students strike against government funding for gas industry
 

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Comments (4)
Michael Wln
MichaelW May 21, 2021 6:04AM ET
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Get back to class !
Tony Coll
Tony Coll May 21, 2021 4:56AM ET
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Striking to stop something that is completely out of human control to stop (climate change), to destroy an industry they need to make an economic recovery... but been in a draconian lockdown for a virus human beings also cannot possibly stop, but no protests for the loss of freedoms... logical.
Gregg Clay
Gregg Clay May 21, 2021 1:01AM ET
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Today's youth will believe anything but the truth. Their stupidity will be the ruin of us all.
Michael Chen
Michael Chen May 21, 2021 1:01AM ET
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Witnessing last year's uncontrollable forest fires have frightening effect to the young.
Mase Gumbo
Mase Gumbo May 21, 2021 1:01AM ET
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only stupidity on full display is yours "Gregg"
oeg vokar
oeg vokar May 21, 2021 1:01AM ET
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Michael Chen Fires are down, news reporting fires and stupidity up. Why are only young people and kids on this protests?
danny Levine
danny Levine May 21, 2021 12:51AM ET
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woke mobs will destroy Australia. what does aus have anyways? it's resource based economy.
Gregg Clay
Gregg Clay May 21, 2021 12:51AM ET
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The same way they destroyed the Australian auto industry.
danny Levine
danny Levine May 21, 2021 12:51AM ET
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I recall they actually do have their own brand back in the day!
 
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