Wellington students call for climate action
March 26, 2019
Thousands of Wellington students risked being classed as truant to participate in the School Strike 4 Climate Action.
The movement aims to provoke policy change, including passing a Zero Carbon Act and introducing regulations on agricultural emissions and fossil fuel extraction.
Sophie Handford (18), national coordinator of the New Zealand-wide movement, which had 25 strikes across the country scheduled for today, said students as young as eight had been involved with the organisation of these events, with most being under 18.
Handford has been accused of encouraging students to break the law. She was called the “New Zealand wag leader” by Sean Plunket in an interview on Magic Talk radio.
She said these claims diminished the protesters aims.
Participation in the strikes would provide students more of an education than a day at school by teaching them how to participate within a democratic society, she said.
The protest actions emphasised the importance of education and displayed the sacrifice students were willing to make for climate action.
Despite the backlash, Handford said most school principals had been “super supportive”,with some even agreeing to mark students attending the strike as ‘explained absent’.
The Wellington strike began with a march from Civic Square to Parliament. There, a number of young activists, MPs, including Climate Minister and Green Party co-leader James Shaw, and other “adult allies” spoke.
Students from all over the Wellington region attended, with some travelling from as far as the Kapiti Coast.
University student, Liza Gaiduch, missed her lectures to attend the event,saying it was important for as many people as possible to be there to highlight their concerns.
“We’re the last generation to be able to make a stand to the effects of climate change, and the first generation to feel the first effects of it,” she said.
An estimated 1000 school strikes will be held today across 80 countries.