Students learning the lessons of activism and climate change

Gloria Taylor
Deputy Secretary

Students around Australia (and indeed the world) continue to show leadership sadly lacking from many adults in terms of taking action to address climate change.

A recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated that climate change is a global emergency and is already beginning to have an effect on our world, predominantly among low socio-economic status people and people in developing countries. In the Asia Pacific region, rising sea levels and increasingly damaging climate events are already causing destruction and devastation.

Following on the success of previous climate strikes, students are currently organising a student led climate strike for Friday 20 September. This will be an internationally coordinated event and is planned for this time so that it coincides with the United Nations Emergency Climate Summit. The aim of the strike is to pressure politicians and other bodies to take the threat of climate change seriously and begin to put into place measures to mitigate expected outcomes.

This student led climate strike has been supported by a wide range of unions, including the Finance Sector Union, the National Tertiary Education Union and the Australian Education Union (Victorian Branch).

IEUA NSW/ACT commits our support to this action by students. Central to the goals of education in Australia, according to The Melbourne Declaration, is the development of an active and informed citizenry. There can be little doubt that young people have taken the time to inform themselves about the ‘global emergency’ (IPCC, 2018) facing us all, and are now enacting their democratic right to protest their concerns.

IEUA NSW/ACT Branch Council unanimously voted for a motion indicating our support for the student strike. We support the active involvement of young people in important issues and congratulate them on this action. We commend thoes schools that are suppoting students in this action.

Teachers and support staff need to be mindful of their duty of care towards students, so it might not be possible for them to join with students in protesting on the day, but we would encourage chapters to explore ways in which they might indicate their support for action on climate change in other ways. In addition, any staff who are not working on 20 September, and are in the vicinity of a march, might wish to join in.

Motion to Council – unanimously supported
We, the Council of IEUA NSW/ACT Branch:
Recognise that climate change is a global emergency representing an existential threat
Acknowledge that climate change is already having negative effects in Australia and internationally, such as increasing severity and likelihood of climate events, more damaging bushfires, breaking of heat records and coral reef bleaching
Acknowledge that climate change will disproportionately affect working people and already disadvantaged communities and members of society, and it is vital that we strive together in a campaign for climate justice, as both an environmental and human rights issue
Express our solidarity with students who are engaged in taking action on Friday 20 September, and
Will support students where it is safe, appropriate and ethical to do so.