Shit you should care about… Uni students’ role in the ‘School Strike 4 Climate’

***Our climate change queen Rebekah is back again to tell us all why we should be taking the day off uni to get amongst the ‘School strike for climate.’ As usual, all views are her own, but yeah, we agree.***

“You are not mature enough to tell it like it is. Even that burden you leave to us children”

This is how 16 year old Greta Thunberg roasted world leaders when she began protesting outside the Swedish parliament every Friday, in a desperate plea for meaningful action on climate change. Her movement has exploded across the globe, sparking mass protests by schoolchildren in Australia, the UK,and across Europe.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past month, you’ll probably know that there are similar ‘School Strike 4 Climate’ protests happening across New Zealand this Friday (15 March), with thousands of students expected to participate. Even though this movement is championed by school kids, us uni students should also be getting amongst.

Image from schoolstrikeforclimate.com

Image from schoolstrikeforclimate.com

Somewhere during the bombardment of controversy and panic we’re constantly hounded with surrounding these two words - ‘climate change’ -  it seems we’ve been forced into apathy, because it’s so much simpler to just not care. But while an issue as imminent and overwhelming as climate change is confusing - that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be interested. Yes, it’s difficult to actually figure out what meaningful, basic action we can take as individuals -  because what can we really even do?

The answer? Show up to movements like School Strike.

School is cool but unfortunately our planet isn’t because we are cooking it.” @TomCBallard

As I’m sure many of us will ruefully know from debating social issues with friends and whānau, nothing pisses off conservative, condescending and ignorant adults like the sassiness and ingenuity of teenage activism. So whether or not you understand the ins and outs of climate change policy and discourse, rarking up said adults should be incentive enough to head along tomorrow.

More importantly though, movements like this can achieve far more than that (as well as the creation of some seriously glorious signs). Think about the bunch of young people who pushed through the Zero Carbon Bill which will soon commit NZ to carbon neutrality by 2050. Consider the recent success of banning new offshore oil and gas exploration. Movements like this work, and unfortunately in NZ they are still necessary, because we’re simply not where we need to be with our policy trajectory for climate change mitigation.

Image from www.climatechangenews.com

Image from www.climatechangenews.com

Leading scientists know we essentially have a 12 year window to undertake drastic global action to keep warming to a maximum of 1.5 degrees, beyond which the impacts of climate change such as floods, droughts, extreme heat and poverty will be significantly more severe for hundreds of millions of people. While NZ has made some good progress, our policies won’t even hold warming below 2 degrees – let alone below the Paris Agreement’s target of 1.5 degrees. If the rest of the world’s policies were at this rating, warming would reach between 2-3 degrees. Put simply, we need to get a move on and create more urgent policies to meet these targets, or the world is screwed.

If you accept that climate change is real, that we are causing it, and that it represents an existential threat, then complaining about kids missing a day of school to wake up their politicians seems spectacularly mean minded” @ZacGoldsmith

The implications of inaction on our future do not outweigh a day off uni (not that we really need this much encouragement anyway) and participating in stuff like this is ridiculously easy. So get involved and help change the political inertia that got us into this mess. All you have to do is show up (which you can do here if you’re in Wellington https://www.facebook.com/events/407880519979016/)

Rebekah Hill

Banner Image from Davide Bonazzi http://www.davidebonazzi.com/in-context.html