Teen cli­mate ac­tivist takes to the har­bour

Bangkok Post - - ASIA -

SYD­NEY: Aus­tralian school stu­dent Am­brose Hayes, 15, rode on a protest barge in Syd­ney Har­bour yes­ter­day hold­ing a huge yel­low ban­ner de­mand­ing “No Gas” as part of a global cli­mate rally call­ing for greater ac­tion from world lead­ers.

“I am here be­cause I am fed up with the Aus­tralian govern­ment’s in­ac­tion on the cli­mate cri­sis. We need to act now be­fore it’s too late,” cli­mate ac­tivist Hayes told Reuters TV.

Hayes’ protest is part of some 500 cli­mate events planned across Aus­tralia as part of “Fri­days for Fu­ture” move­ment that was made fa­mous by Swedish stu­dent Greta Thun­berg.

Hayes is one of eight stu­dents who have launched a class ac­tion to stop the en­vi­ron­ment min­is­ter ap­prov­ing an ex­pan­sion of a coal mine ar­gu­ing it will en­dan­ger their fu­tures.

The stu­dents ar­gue En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Su­san Ley has a duty of care to pro­tect them from cli­mate change and the ex­pan­sion of White­haven Coal’s Vick­ery coal mine in New South Wales state will con­trib­ute to cli­mate change and en­dan­ger their fu­ture.

“If we don’t take ac­tion now we’re go­ing to face more in­tense droughts, more in­tense fires ... these are just go­ing to hap­pen more and more and we’re not go­ing to stop it if we don’t take ac­tion now,” Hayes said.

Less than two years ago, Hayes was at school frus­trated by what he per­ceived as in­ac­tion to lower car­bon emis­sions. Now, he is a lead­ing cli­mate ac­tivist in Aus­tralia.

“I shouldn’t have to be do­ing this. I should be a ‘nor­mal kid’ go­ing to school and not hav­ing to worry about this. But the govern­ment has left us no choice. The last gen­er­a­tions have left us not choice. We need to stand up,” Hayes said.

Cli­mate change has been a di­vi­sive topic in Aus­tralia, one of the world’s largest per capita car­bon emit­ters. The coun­try’s con­ser­va­tive govern­ment has won suc­ces­sive elec­tions on a plat­form of sup­port­ing Aus­tralia’s dom­i­nant fos­sil fuel sec­tors.

But mas­sive bush­fires ear­lier this year, which ex­perts said were stoked by a drought ex­ac­er­bated by cli­mate change, have el­e­vated cli­mate change as an is­sue for many, es­pe­cially with fires ex­pected in a few months when Aus­tralia’s sum­mer re­turns. About 300,000 Aus­tralian school chil­dren and cli­mate ac­tivists last year took to the streets de­mand­ing ur­gent ac­tion.

Am­brose Hayes, a 15-year-old cli­mate change ac­tivist, rides on a barge dur­ing an event as part of the Fund Our Fu­ture Not Gas cli­mate rally in Syd­ney Har­bour yes­ter­day.

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