At 10am on the 21/05/21, approximately 30 people congregated in Kambri to represent the ANU Contingent as a part of the May 21 ‘School Strike 4 Climate’. The broader climate strikes were run by school students and organised to protest the recent Federal Budget for “lining the pockets of multinational gas companies, which are fuelling the climate crisis, devastating our land and water, wrecking our health and creating very few jobs.”
In Kambri, a number of university students spoke to the crowd. A member of Socialist Alternative argued that climate change is a result of the “inherently competitive nature of capitalism” — arguing that we should build a world that isn’t beholden to profits and reorganise the economy around what is good for the people and the environment. They argued that we must see political parties and corporations as the ‘enemy’ of the climate movement and thus that “radical change is necessary”, as it is clear that the government believes that they should give massive bailouts to the failing industries of gas and coal.
Another student focused on the impact of climate change on first nations people across the globe. They highlighted that we have until 2030 until human-caused climate change becomes completely irreversible, but emphasised that the impacts of climate change — for example, sinking islands — are already happening. They critiqued the ANU for being “unwilling to completely divest from fossil fuels at the expense of first nations people and their land”. The ANU has launched its Below Zero Initiative aiming to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to net-negative by 2030. However, it has not provided clarity when it will divest from its investments in fossil fuels.*
Another speaker, from Young Workers ACT, presented an argument as to how workers are included in the struggle for climate action. They explained that current wages are not enough to survive, emphasising that workers cannot “look forward to the future when all there is employment instability and climate disaster”. They critiqued the Federal Budget for causing an increase in insecure working conditions, arguing that “ripping off workers and destroying their environment was at the top of their agenda”.
The original plan was to march into the larger protest in Glebe Park, but in anticipation of lower turnout than previous climate strikes, the contingent instead decided to “take it as a walk over” and stick together at the rally to represent the ANU contingent.** The larger protest focused on the chance that Australia has to sustainably recover from COVID-19 — critiquing the decision of the Morrison administration to subsidise “climate-wrecking gas projects”.
*Editor’s note (27/5): An earlier version of this article incorrectly described the goals of the ANU’s Below Zero initiative. This article has since been amended to correct this. We apologise for this error.
**Editor’s note (27/5): An earlier version of this article implied the walk over was organised last minute. This article has since been amended to correct this. We apologise for this error.