Thousands of people in Australia took to the streets across the country on Friday for climate protests. A large number of students stayed away from class to express anger over the planned gas power plant and the government’s reluctant climate policy. During rallies in several cities from Perth to Brisbane, protesters called on the Conservative government to do more against climate change, which is already evident in Australia.
Important emission targets may be missed
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Tuesday that he wanted to build a new gas power plant near Sydney, despite warnings from environmentalists. His government plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on the project. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has previously warned that construction could miss important emissions targets.
“The Morrison government can protect our climate, our land and water and create thousands of new jobs by expanding the renewable energy sector in Australia,” said Nabila Chaudhry, a 17-year-old protester in Sydney. “Instead, they are filling the pockets of multinational gas companies that are triggering a climate crisis.”
Greta Dunberg supports protesters via Twitter
In Melbourne, as about 5,000 people took to the streets, protesters showed signs of reading “coal history” and “finances for our future.” Greta Dunberg, a Swedish environmental activist and initiator of the student climate struggles, supported the Australian protesters via Twitter: “The biggest climate strikes across Australia today,” she wrote in a text message service. “Soon other parts of the world will be participating.”
The power plant is essential and creates jobs
Morrison justifies his plans for the Hunter Valley power plant with social features: “It will create about 600 new jobs during construction and 1,200 indirect jobs across the state,” the prime minister said. A power plant is also needed to keep electricity prices low in New South Wales.
International pressure is mounting
Despite the protests, the Prime Minister is not under domestic pressure to change his climate policy. Opposition Labor supports coal mining and the operation of coal-fired power plants. However, with the International Climate Summit in Glasgow in November, international pressure is mounting on Australia to set a date for achieving climate neutrality.
Australia is also one of the largest producers of coal and natural gas in the world. In recent years, the country has been hit by severe droughts, floods and bushfires. According to experts, climate change has made the situation worse.