About 200 people attend Schools Strike 4 Climate in Cessnock

About 200 people of all ages - from primary school children to knitting nannas - turned out in Cessnock on Friday for the Schools Strike 4 Climate.

Part of the Global Climate Strike movement, the protest began at Turner Park, Aberdare and marched to Member for Hunter Joel Fitzgibbon's office in Edward Street, Cessnock.

Cessnock was among 90 towns across the nation to take part in Friday's strike, which demanded action including no new coal, oil and gas projects in Australia; 100 percent renewable energy generation and exports by 2030, and that the government funds a just transition and job creation for fossil-fuel industry workers and communities.

Local university students Beau Gatland, 19, and Sean Bryant, 18, said they were taking part because they are concerned about the lack of action on global warming.

"I don't want to grow up in a world where the environment might die before I'm 60," Beau said.

"It's really scary... the science is saying we've got to do something, but the politicians won't," Sean added.

Mr Fitzgibbon turned up at Turner Park and addressed the crowd, congratulating the students and others gathered for making their views known.

"I want climate justice too, and I want it now as well," he said in response to a chant from the crowd.

Mr Fitzgibbon said he was committed to meaningful action on climate change, and that he believes this can be done "without damaging our economy or destroying local coal mining jobs".

"Our relatively clean thermal and metallurgical coal is helping big emitters like China and India reduce their own emissions," he said.

"It takes 200 tonnes of metallurgical coal to make one wind turbine; you can't make wind turbines without metallurgical coal, and we have plenty of it here ready and eager for it to be exported.

"We can do something about the climate without forsaking our mining industry and our local jobs.

"If we can't help China and India reduce their emissions, nothing we do in Australia will make any difference because we are such a small contributor."

Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon addresses the crowd at the climate strike at Turner Park.

Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon addresses the crowd at the climate strike at Turner Park.

Kaitlyn Williams, who helped to organise the Cessnock protest with her daughter Vivienne Kelleher, said she was thrilled with the turnout.

"I felt extremely encouraged and supported by a diverse group of people who are aware, and who want to make a difference to Cessnock, Australia and globally," she said.

Vivienne, 16, spoke outside Mr Fitzgibbon's office after her Year 11 exam at Cessnock High School finished early.

"We absolutely need to get ahead in our actions to prevent any further descent into this climate chaos," she said.

"The science is clear, so let's make it as clear as we can to our politicians that we want these three things.

"Firstly, no new coal, oil and gas projects.

"Secondly, 100 percent renewable energy and exports by 2030. There's no time to waste.

"Lastly, we need to fund job creation and the just transition for all fossil fuel workers and communities.

"Right now, in 2019, I feel that the future is somewhat bleak, and that we might run out of time, thanks to how our world leaders are acting.

"These strikes are concerted effort to turn the tide of the worst of global warming.

"So please listen to us, please do something, don't let these strikes be our final hope."

Cessnock-Kurri Greens member Janet Murray, who contested the state and federal elections this year, also took to the microphone. She called out the negative effects of coal mining.

"It disturbs me when I hear people say that we can continue to mine coal for export - that's not 'our problem'," she said.

"That gets counted against the receiving country's Paris Agreement - it doesn't affect our commitments.

"Sorry, but this is hypocritical garbage! There is only one atmosphere around this planet. All CO2 from burning fossil fuel goes into that atmosphere, trapping heat, further increasing temperatures.

"CO2 emissions are the highest they have been in the last 800,000 years and global temperatures have already increased by nearly one degree.

"This is already enough to give us catastrophic bushfires, extreme floods and melting ice sheets.

"We need leadership that acknowledges the problems we are facing and looks for solutions, rather than burying their heads in the sand or should I say, coal?

"We need to all pull together, rather than fight amongst ourselves.

"We should aim for a society where everyone can earn a good wage and no one's children are placed at risk of harm through the actions of others."

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