UPDATE 2.46pm: MEMBER for Bendigo Lisa Chesters has encouraged a young group of central Victorians who are striking from school to demand action from their federal politicians on climate change.
“I completely understand why these students are taking action,” she said.
“We now need a federal government to listen, engage and be a strong partner.”
Ms Chesters said there had been ‘terrible inaction’ on climate change, to the point where she said the federal government was going backwards.
“Collectively, we are all responsible for inaction on climate change,” she said.
However, she said the bulk of the responsibility should rest with the government.
She was disappointed to learn the students were not received by Senator McKenzie’s office this morning.
”She is sitting at the decision-making table,” Ms Chesters said.
Ms Chesters, who is part of the federal opposition, said she was happy to meet with the students to learn what they would like her to do about climate change.
She said taking an active interest in what politicians were doing about environmental issues back when she was a student was what led her to a career in politics.
“I want to encourage them to have a say and have a voice,” Ms Chesters said.
EARLIER: MORE than 20 of the young people who will have to live with the consequences of the decisions our politicians are making about climate change are calling on their elected representatives to do better.
Students from a number of central Victorian schools gathered outside Senator Bridget McKenzie’s office in Bendigo’s Hargreaves Mall this morning with placards.
They are also planning to strike outside of the office of Member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters.
“We are sacrificing our education for the sake of our futures,” 14-year-old Harriet O’Shea Carre said.
“Being children, we have very little say about things like this but we care deeply.
“We are demanding the government start treating climate change like the crisis it is.”
The strike from school was driven and organised by the students.
“We’re hoping Bridget McKenzie starts to listen to what other people have to say about climate change,” fellow strike participant Callum Neilson-Bridgfoot said.
The young people said they had pressed the doorbell of the senator’s office, but no-one had been out to meet them. Instead, the doorbell took a message for Ms McKenzie’s staff.
Milou Albrecht, 14, said she and her peers wanted today’s politicians to ensure global warming was well below 1.5 degrees Celsius by the time they were of age to vote.
A special report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently highlighted the ‘rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes’ that would need to take place in all aspects of society now to limit rising temperatures.
The co-chair of one of the IPCC’s working groups, Panmao Zhai, said the report showed the consequences of one degree of global warming were already being felt through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes.
“Every extra bit of warming matters, especially since warming of 1.5ºC or higher increases the risk associated with long-lasting or irreversible changes, such as the loss of some ecosystems,” another of the working group’s co-chairs, Hans-Otto Pörtner, said.
The young people striking in Bendigo wanted coal power to be a part of Australian history, not the key to its energy production, by the time they were adults.
One of the placards they created said, “Adani is worse than brussel (sic) sprouts”.
Miss Albrecht was wearing earrings she had fashioned herself bearing the words, ‘Stop Adani’.
Without action from today’s politicians, 11-year-old Asher Bodin said cloudless days would be rarer than they are now.
Thirteen-year-old Sigrid Dawn said temperatures would be more extreme – a message all the more pertinent on a day of ‘very high’ fire danger in central Victoria, with the mercury expected to rise to 35 degrees.
Much of what the young people know about climate change, they said they had learned from their parents.
Several of the students on strike said their parents were members of Central Victorian Climate Action.
“It is not addressed in schools. They should bring it up in schools,” Miss Dawn said.
Ms McKenzie has been contacted for comment.
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