Why this high school student won't strike for climate change

News 12/03/2019

Thousands of New Zealand school children are planning a school strike on Friday to protest climate change.

But New Plymouth Boys' High School student James Macey won't be among them.

The 17-year-old says the protests are a "futile attempt" to make progress towards a better future.

He spoke to Magic Talk's Sean Plunket on Monday about his decision to stay in school, and why he thinks those protesting are making the wrong choice.

"Strikes work because they deprive an employer of something," he said on Monday afternoon.

"All this is, is students leaving school, and the school isn't going to miss them. The students are only depriving themselves, because they're missing a day of education."

The idea to leave school in protest of climate change was started by 16-year-old Swedish student Greta Thunberg, who plans to strike every Friday until Sweden cuts emissions by 15 percent a year.

In New Zealand, the protests are being led by 18-year-old Sophie Handford, from Porirua.

"We have the right to fight for our future. We have the right to a secure future and a safe climate future," she told Mr Plunket last Tuesday.

In defence of the protest, Ms Handford pointed out she's encouraging students to get permission to leave school.

"We're actually encouraging kids to get permission from their schools. So lots of kids are doing this almost like a school trip, so the teachers are taking them out, and striking with them," she said.

"We don't want kids wagging, and the fact that it's being described as wagging we see as being quite unfair," she told Mr Plunket.

Mr Macey says he suspects the protests won't attract crowds. 

"At least where I am, it doesn't seem to have gained a lot of traction."

But he does support the concept - Mr Macey agrees climate change is an issue, and young people should be passionate about it.

"Young people can make decision on which brands they buy from based on environmental responsibility," he explained

"But they can also engage in a more civilised and intellectual discussion with their politicians rather than just taking a day off school, waving banners and expecting it to do something, which it probably won't."