Thousands of teens take part in School Strike 4 Climate protests

Thousands of protesters have hit the streets in about a dozen centres across New Zealand, calling for more action on climate change. 

The School Strike 4 Climate movement, inspired by Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg, returned on Friday after a year-and-a-half's absence due to COVID-19. Photos show most of the attendees were teenagers. 

About 1000 protesters turned out in Auckland, hundreds in Christchurch and about 5000 in Wellington, gathering outside Parliament despite the rain. They were met by four Green MPs, but none from the other parties, Stuff reported. 

Party leader James Shaw told them not enough progress had been made in updating the curriculum to reflect the impact climate change is having on all subjects taught in schools. 

"No more coal, no more oil, keep the carbon in the soil," protesters shouted in Christchurch, RNZ reported, while popular chants in Auckland included "hey hey, ho ho, climate change has got to go" and "people power". 

Protesters in Wellington.
Protesters in Wellington. Photo credit: Newshub.

"Make Earth cool again," one sign in Wellington read. "The Earth is hotter than my imaginary girlfriend," said another. "We are missing our lessons so we can teach you one," said a third - a common theme seen on signs elsewhere too. 

"Keep the Earth clean like Uranus," a particularly cheeky sign in Auckland read. "You can fight climate change at every meal - go vegan," another urged. 

Protesters in Wellington.
Protesters in Wellington. Photo credit: Newshub.

"Since our last stand in September 2019, the Zero-Carbon Bill and Emissions Trading Scheme have been passed, the Government has declared a climate emergency, and the Climate Change Commission have released a draft of their advice to our Government," School Strike 4 Climate Auckland spokesperson Christina Sieberhagen, 15, said.

"However, none of this is enough. The Zero-Carbon Bill, Emissions Trading Scheme, and Climate Change Commission report aren't ambitious enough to tackle the magnitude of the climate crisis. We are doing too little too slowly. The actions of our Government simply do not match their words on 'climate emergency'."

The key demands this time around are investing in sustainable energy and retraining people from those industries to find new work, and helping Pacific nations deal with the effects of climate change.

Shaw said the Greens backed the protesters' calls.

"Today the climate strikers have provided a set of demands that would help meet the scale of the challenge we have ahead. And their message couldn't be clearer: we need to act; and we need to act right now.

"As Aotearoa is a leader in the Pacific region, it's critical that we do all that we can to protect our Pasifika neighbours, whose homelands are already at risk."

In a Facebook Live video on Thursday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern addressed the strike and spoke about the Government's announcement this week on a ban on new coal-fired burners and handing out millions of dollars to help businesses transition away from fossil fuels.