Students and activists gathered at the Hyde Park fountain on Friday to protest against ongoing climate inaction, demanding the Morrison government take more urgent and effective action to combat climate change.
The protest was organised by the student-led grassroots organisation School Strike for Climate Change, whose rallies have previously attracted up to 80,000 supporters.
It was a COVID-19 safe event, with masks required and COVID marshals deploying hand sanitiser. The USyd, UNSW, and UTS Environment Collectives were in attendance, representing university students.
The protestors demanded that no new coal, oil, or gas plants be developed, instead insisting on an immediate transition to renewable, green energy. There were calls for 100% renewable energy by 2030, a goal which the Morrison government has repeatedly avoided committing to, in favour of a planned announcement in the May federal budget to expand gas infrastructure.
Speakers at the rally criticised this “gas-fired recovery,” claiming novel gas infrastructure would produce the equivalent carbon emissions of thirty-three coal fired power plants. Student and organiser Natasha claimed that this was a counter-productive approach for the government to take, exclaiming “we’re moving backwards, this [green energy] is the future”.
The event kicked off with a group marching through the park, holding banners and chanting “Stop Santos, that’s our mission. Fund green jobs, just transition!” After a Welcome to Country by a First Nations elder, several high school students gave speeches and chanted over megaphones.
Kayla Hill, a fifteen-year-old student, told attendees how she was “afraid” for her future in wake of the 2019 bushfires that have widely been attributed to climate change. “Mr Morrison, we are sick of your empty promises and false hope,” she said. “It’s not our job to clean up your mess”.
Several attendees expressed how, at the heart of the protest, there was a sense of dread and fear for a future of climate catastrophes. But speakers also conveyed the possibility of optimism and hope, which rests on the government acting decisively.