Student activists gathered at the official residence of Australia’s prime minister to demand tougher action against climate change, citing recent floods that killed at least 20 people as justification for their campaign.
Hundreds of students, young trade unionists, and indigenous Australians screamed and waved placards at Kirribilli House as part of a global protest, they claimed.
“What I do wish for is a government that is not in denial and that listens to science and the people,” Ella O’Dwyer-Oshlack, 13, told the gathering after her house and school were destroyed in the recent floods.
Climate change is a contentious political topic in Australia, which is a significant coal and gas producer and has long been chastised for being one of the world’s highest per capita carbon emitters.
Australia has set a goal of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050, but activists argue that this deadline is too far away.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who was not present during the rally, told reporters that he was concerned about climate change.
“It’s not simply about lowering emissions,” Morrison remarked, referring to the upcoming general election.
“You must deal with the effects of climate change that have already occurred. The effects of weather events and other factors are the result of events that have occurred for decades. We must strengthen our adaptability and resilience.”
Climate change was blamed in part by a royal commission study into the worst bushfires in a generation in 2019 and 2020, which predicted that extreme weather would become more often as a result of global warming.