(dpa) – Thousands of students in New Zealand took to the streets of major cities and smaller towns Friday to demand more urgent action on climate change.
Held for the first time since 2019, the nationwide event was part of a movement of school students called School Strike 4 Climate (SS4C).
While the New Zealand government had declared a climate emergency, it was “not enough”, SS4C Auckland spokesperson Christina Sieberhagen said in a statement.
“We are doing too little too slowly. The actions of our government simply do not match their words on ‘climate emergency’.”
The school strikes were a chance to put pressure on the government, fellow spokesperson Jack Barlow said.
“I know a lot of us young people especially feel so disenfranchised by the political climate. In our political system, if you have an issue you take it to the polls.”
However, under 18s are not able to vote in New Zealand’s elections.
“That cornerstone of democracy, we don’t get that. This is our way to have an actual say in our futures,” Barlow said.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic, demonstrations are currently allowed in New Zealand without restrictions like the wearing of masks or social distancing.
The country’s largest education union backed the strike, NZEI Te Riu Roa president Liam Rutherford said in a statement.
“NZEI Te Riu Roa fully supports the goals of the School Strike 4 Climate movement, which include the removal of fossil fuels, the move towards 100 per cent renewables, a just transition, support for our Pacific neighbours, and, obviously, really good quality climate education,” Rutherford said.