Jess McCrindle and Alison Wright, Year 12 students at Pacific Hills Christian School in Sydney’s Hills district, say their Christian faith compels them to raise their voices and take part in today’s climate strikes across the world.
“It is a really important issue and it’s something that is not being addressed or treated as it should be because it has a really big impact,” Jess told Eternity as she travelled to the city centre to take part in a march from Town Hall to Hyde Park.
“The politicians and government know that the issues are there, but there’s not a lot of action.”
The Sydney march is part of a countrywide and global protest sparked by teenage Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. When students left their classrooms in the name of climate action last year, government ministers condemned their decision to skip school in order to protest.
However, Jess said: “It’s not that we don’t care about school. My friend did a test early so she could be here and it’s more of a sacrifice than an excuse. It’s a deliberate decision because we think it’s important.
“From a Christian point of view, it is really important because we’re entrusted with the earth to take care of it, and the way that it’s being treated now is not taking good care of it.”
“It’s hard for Australia which is a coal-based economy, but if we don’t make that move now we’re just running out of time.” – Alison Wright
Jess’s friend, Alison Wright, said she would like the protest to put pressure on big companies such as Indian coal giant Adani, which were “creating most of the pollution.”
Adani’s long-delayed Carmichael project in the Galilee basin in Queensland was supposed to create 10,000 jobs for communities, she said, but “they’ve created less than 1500, so that’s not really a good movement.”
“Obviously, we need energy, but we should commit more to renewables and it’s hard for Australia which is a coal-based economy, but if we don’t make that move now we’re just running out of time,” Alison said
She added the predicted rise in temperatures and rate of animal extinction were “really disturbing.”
“They’re forecasting that we won’t be able to go outside by 2100. And I think all the animals I can see today maybe my kids won’t be able to see. That’s actually emotional and concerning. It’s really bad and it’s really urgent.”
“Think we have a responsibility to be the voice for them as well as Christians.” – Jess McCrindle
Alison said teachers at their school were privately positive about the students exercising their democratic right to protest and had no problem with them wearing their school uniforms while doing do.
“As a global citizen and as a Christian, I think you have to be involved in this stuff,” she said.
“Even if we know God will sort it out, we still have a responsibility because it is his creation.”
Jess added: “From a Christian point of view, a lot of people who are being affected by climate change are small islands and those people are voiceless to be heard in the global conversation because they have such a small population. And I think we have a responsibility to be the voice for them as well as Christians.”
After the march, Pacific Hills Year 12 student Roweena Ow commented that she felt empowered to . have her voice heard along with other students.
“This strike has been an avenue of giving agency to those that are facing climate change first.” – Roweena Ow
“We believe today we took up our responsibility as Christians who are called to be stewards of God’s creation to fight for the right action to be taken,” she said.
“The reality is climate change is happening! However, instead of destroying the earth through mining for fossil fuels, we can move towards renewable power and using the wisdom from God to come up with environmentally friendly solutions.
“It’s easy to think there’s nothing we can do. But today, that’s not the story! We are only students; however, this strike has been an avenue of giving agency to those that are facing climate change first. Because we are called to love people, we should be concerned when lives are at stake.”