By Celine Lai

“Climate change is the selfishness of those who won’t be around to face the impacts of it” is a  statement by a student who was at the fulcrum of the 2019 youth strikes for climate action.

SBS has broadcast an excellent one hour documentary on the “School Strike 4 Climate Change” marches around Australia in 2019.

You can view and share the documentary at the link below, until 31 August 2022.

The oldest of these students will now be aged twenty, and the adults of today have yet to step up and address the “elephant in the room of international climate talks”, which is fossil fuels.

My perspective is that these marches give the youth hope, while offering adults who are aware of these marches, self-responsibility. 

Self-responsibility means being aware of your place in an interrelated world and taking the next right next step toward a progressive or a just, liveable, environmentally sustainable, and peaceful world for all.

It means being organized and having the information, resources, plans, courage, motivation or reasons, and the willpower and persistence to create the sort of life that you want. And you do this through being in alignment with the natural pattern of creation, which is to look after the Earth and each other.

Contrary to what some may think, the school strikes for climate rallies have a significant impact on awareness of the possibilities and the need for change across Australia.  The marches and rallies are part of a wide and powerful movement that has young people and adults working with and approaching people in all tiers of government and in various industries, asking for real lasting action that will stop adverse climate change.

The School Strike 4 Climate website announces the following 3 aims.

  • Net zero by 2030 which means no new coal, oil or gas projects including the Adani mine
  • 100% renewable energy generations and exports by 2030
  • Fund a just transition and job creation for all fossil-fuel workers and their communities

Idealistic, some may claim?  Well, no not if the responsible adults of today want it.  Positive change can happen fast if enough people across the globe commit to it. Unprecedented international cooperation is a possibility. Some would say that it is necessary.

Young people especially, don’t want an “eleventh-hour necessity move” i.e. humanity to be pushed forcibly into drastic changes in order to avert a climate-induced catastrophe.

Nationwide and local youth groups in Australia are stepping up their actions for change.

While some adults may choose not to see beyond the televised news coverage of the “School Strikes 4 Climate” marches, if they dig a little, they will find actions taken which have raised awareness, and which are having a sizable effect on climate change dialogue in Australia.  

Every action counts. Responsible people look beyond the surface for the truth. And the truth is that we live on a delicately balanced planet which human beings depend upon, and which can be made sustainable if we take huge steps now as a collective.

While there are multiple sources of increased global warming, that doesn’t mean the Australian government can let greenhouse gas emissions from producing and using coal and gas “off the hook”.

Claiming that long term production of gas is essential for Australia’s economic recovery is wrong.  This only compares the effects of emissions from gas to emissions from coal, but the aim is to minimize greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors as much as possible.  

Surely, not having new coal and gas projects, as mandated by the International Energy Agency, is possible? There will be ramifications, obviously, but Woodside and others can wind-down their coal and gas operations and invest in other business. Workers can be given incentives to wind down or can be transferred to new employment.

Yet Woodside has just received approval for pipelines for its polluting and dangerous Scarborough gas project!  And the Premier of Western Australia, Mark McGowan, is supporting this.

Perdaman is up for using Woodside’s gas from its proposed extension, to produce urea, but fertilizers can be produced without methane gas.  Plus there is no shortage in Australia of fertilizers.  

Woodside claims that their methane would be used to produce hydrogen for power, but at what cost to the Australian land and living things, as Australia warms up, with increased extreme weather events?

The University of Sydney reports that:

“Dr Blanche Verlie, a climate sociologist, says schools are failing to provide students with climate education. So, what do the kids do? To learn about climate action, they’re taking to the street.  Students are striking because they are terrified of the future they are inheriting and horrified by the unequal implications for others.”

“Young people are becoming climate change educators. They have been teaching themselves and others, from their peers, to parents, teachers, communities, politicians, and scholars. Students must navigate complex political terrain in order to fight for their futures. Given all of this, we need to reimagine education in these climate-changing times.


I am in my fifties and I admire the youth of today who are standing up for the rights of everyone, in these times of climate wars.  My respect, appreciation, and admiration is not meant to give the message that young people have to be involved with the School Strike 4 Climate movement, to be respected.

I admire those in the movement for their dedication and perseverance among the “maddening” and doubting tide that they face.  And I want to let them know that they have the support of many adults. For example, in 2015 I started my website “Stop Fires Australia”, motivated by a vision of Australia on fire.

I wish that I could say that I admire all of our government leaders for taking the future seriously enough to catapult the cultural, economic, technological, infrastructure, and communication changes needed to stop warming up and polluting the planet.  

Self-responsibility involves adults being aware that the world is for all, not just for a few.  Propping up coal and gas endangers all on it, including those who push for fossil fuels.

Around the world, young people are involved with “Fridays for Future” who fight for their future and the lives of all because they are directly threatened by the climate crisis and ecological breakdown.

Contrary to what some may think and claim, many young people are aware that the impacts of human-made climate change is an inescapable reality, and they are doing something about it.

If we adults can learn anything from the youth who go on strike for climate change, it is that:

“We have not inherited this earth from our parents to do with it what we will. We have borrowed it from our children and we must be careful to use it in their interests as well as our own.”

[ Source:  Quote investigator ]

Thank you to everyone who takes any non-violent step, whether that be to educate about what’s needed, or to write letters to the Editor, go on strike, or do anything else to keep fossil fuels in the ground. 

Your care and energy and time is appreciated and makes a big difference.  National Geographic and the United Nations and many other organizations endorse the School Strike 4 Climate and other youth climate justice movements and note that they are making a difference.

We are all in this together, learning from and supporting each other. It’s time to “come clean” and to respect the International Energy Agency and the International Panel on Climate Change and change our culture and bring in renewable energy and green resources for our power and other needs.