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Students head call for climate leadership

climate change, community

By Lauren Salathiel

Recycled cardboard placards aloft, more than 2000 concerned residents of Albury and the region joined millions of others around the globe to call for proactive climate policy change at Friday’s Climate Strike.

Uniformed school students walked out of school to lead the gathering, a gesture symbolic of the fact that they will be the generation that will deal with the ecological consequences of the extractive mentality of today’s political leaders.

On the list of calls for change were an end to new coal, gas and oil extraction projects, support for workers in these industries to transition to more sustainable alternatives and a country powered by 100 percent renewable energy by 2030.

While the existential concern was palpable as the students – backed by adults from as wide a cross-section of our community as you are ever likely to see – gathered in front of the office of Farrer’s federal representative and environment minister, Sussan Ley was nowhere to be seen.

It’s worrying, indeed, when a constituent group as large and diverse as this one presents itself at the office of an elected representative on an occasion so well publicised and so desperately warranted, and is dismissed with indignation.

It does make it seem as though all the reusable bags and nappies, forgone plane trips, compost piles, carpooled rides, solar panels, bee habitat gardens, local food lunches,  recycled plastic, mended household implements and op shop clothing might ultimately be trumped by the fact that both our major political parties “talk green” while acting as climate miscreants, decried on the world stage.

It’s easy to get bogged down in nihilism. It’s sad that our representatives – who duck and weave to avoid actually leading  and taking the meaningful action that is needed – should make us feel this way.

But Friday’s dismal political response will do nothing to shake the conviction of our community. Even the youngest of us know that the stakes are too high for that.

Our community believes too strongly in the sentiments expressed by local Congolese refugee and climate strike speaker, Marcello, who reassured us that our strength comes from knowing that on this score, our cause and actions are beyond moral reproach.

I don’t think Ms Ley or the major political parties can say the same thing.