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September 20 climate strike – not business as usual

Friday was not business as usual in Melbourne; in fact, the northern CBD came to a standstill and many stores and companies shut their doors for the day or the afternoon to join the climate strike in Treasury Gardens.

The protest was part of a coordinated global strike movement led by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. Thunberg, who first started protesting alone outside Sweden’s parliament last year, has become the figurehead for a movement of young people who are fearful about their future and the future of the planet.

Teenovators and young changemakers from Global Table’s conference earlier this month were proudly in attendance at marches in Australia. Among the crowds were Cassie Goding, 19, and Caitlin Morgan, 17, both of whom joined the strike in Melbourne, while Sophie Fox, 13, attended in Sydney. All were proudly wearing their orange Teenovator T-shirts, which marked them out from the crowd.

The 20th September action was the third in a series of strikes planned by the movement to draw attention to the climate crisis. The activists have three demands: no new coal oil and gas projects; 100% renewable energy generation and exports by 2030; and for government to fund transition and job creation for all fossil-fuel workers and communities.

The movement has its critics, and Australia has been no exception. Federal Minister for Education Dan Tehan drew a link between the global strike movement and flagging test results around the country. “The true test of the protesters’ commitment would be how many turned up for a protest held on a Saturday afternoon,”  he said in a statement.

Despite the resistance of some, school students turned up in droves. Parker Renshaw, a 10-year-old student interviewed by ABC, said that he’d have loved to have been in school, but that he felt he had no other choice.

My education is important, but the world is even more important, and we need to help it.

Global Table Teenovator Riley Skene, founder of innovative and sustainable tiny-house company Treehab, was also at the Melbourne demonstration and held similar views.

“Our future is hard to ignore and this strike symbolises that,” he said. “Giving a voice to young generations will help inspire change in all generations.”

As Marco Gualtieri, founder of Seeds&Chips, noted in his address on Day One of Global Table, “We cannot have a conversation about the future without the leading voices of the next generation”.

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