James Shaw: Climate change school protests

Opinion 13/03/2019
James Shaw. Photo: Getty.

By James Shaw, Green Climate Change Minister.

OPINION: Is it a pointless and ineffective stunt for our young people to protest about inaction on climate change?

National Party MPs sang from the same belittling and paternalistic song sheet recently when they shot down efforts by young people to highlight the devastation being caused by climate change.

The Green Party stands with our children and young people.

School children are absolutely right to take to the streets and demand action on climate change. It is them who will be most affected by its impacts.

In Government, Green Climate Change Minister James Shaw is ensuring we have a strong action plan in the Zero Carbon Bill that will be passed this year, hopefully with the widest possible support, to make sure we meaningfully reduce emissions.

We must keep New Zealand as a healthy and sustainable place to live for our children and grandchildren, and set an example to the world. 

It bothers me the language that is used when a young person takes an action compared to an adult.

One National MP Judith Collins described the action as a “little protest (that) is not going to help the world one bit." The National leader said it was just a chance for students to take a day off school and "muck about".

There is significant cognitive dissonance at play here, these marches are part of a global movement that has caught the attention of our world leaders.

Collective action is the reason we have the five day working week, it has ensured the right for women to vote. To belittle kids for standing up for their future is astounding, we should be proud of their smarts, determination and drive.

Young people are citizens with every right to stand up and speak out about what they care about. And thank god for them because clearly some of the adults in parliament don’t have a clue.

Young people feel they are in a fight for their future, and they are. There was a time when children were given a day off school when members of the Royal family came to town.

Our kids are smart and know what is at stake. Standing up for urgent meaningful action to save our planet from the worst effects of climate change is plenty reason to take a day off school.

We urge kids to keep holding us to account.      

James Shaw is Climate Change Minister and co-leader of the Green Party.