Pupils take a stand for the planet

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School Strike for Climate Change Southland co-ordinator Ashleigh Putt-Fallows leads the way for a peaceful protest for climate change action in Invercargill last Friday. Photo: Abbey Palmer

”FIRST, I think it [climate change] needs to be accepted, because people aren’t accepting that it’s real or happening, and that would be a huge step for Southland,” School Strike for Climate Change Southland co-ordinator Ashleigh Putt-Fallows says.

From school pupils, to local government representatives and MPs, about 100 people from throughout Southland gathered to call for action on climate change at the Queens Park Feldwick Gates, in Invercargill, last Friday.

“[Today] is part of the international action plan for climate change. Specifically for Southland, we have our demands such as climate emergencies [to be] declared, and that we get good business plans in place to say exactly what a green business is,” Ashleigh said.

People could have an impact on the environment just by “trying”, whether it meant using a reusable coffee cup, recycling properly, or reducing their meat intake, she said.

Young people also wanted local government to listen to their solutions, she said.

James Hargest College pupil Gabrielle Schuck said “the earth is in a crisis” and it was important for youth to stand up for what they believed in.

“Definitely the waterways [need to be a priority]. The dairy farms are a big contributor to the pollution of the waterways as well as the coal the schools are using,” she said.

Southlander Eva Hendriks attended the march with her 4-month-old, Maas Lewis.

“I’m here for my children and my grandchildren because I think we’re responsible, that they will have a future.

“If we don’t act now, they will have to pay the price and we will never forgive ourselves and neither will they if we don’t,” she said.

Call for change . . . James Hargest College pupils Gabrielle Schuck (from left), Mary Thompson, Alice and Laura Moreton, all 18.
Mark Bailey of Nightcaps stands in solidarity with peaceful protesters at the School Strike for Climate Change at Queens Park in Invercargill on Friday.
Southland Girls’ High School pupils (from left) Nadege Horwood (16), Madison Flannery (17), Sophie McCrostie (15), and Lara Hamilton (14).
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