Two small rallies were held in the Coalfields on Friday as part of a global day of action on climate change.
September 25 is the School Strike 4 Climate, and while Cessnock and Maitland students opted to hold their 2020 event online, small groups of their supporters held snap rallies at Rotary Park in Kurri Kurri and Cessnock's TAFE grounds to protest the federal government's recently-unveiled energy policy.
The plans - revealed by Prime Minister Scott Morrison on September 15 - include a gas-fired power plant in Kurri Kurri, which the government will build if the energy sector does not replace the capacity lost from the closure of Liddell power station in 2023.
"If Scott Morrison thinks the people of Kurri are going to lie down and say 'yes please' to a gas-fired power plant, he needs to think again," Coalfields for Climate Action spokesperson Janet Murray said.
"The Australian Energy Market Operator doesn't see future increases in gas consumption, so we look like being stuck with a lemon.
"The time for gas as a transition fuel was 30 years ago.
"We've reached the stage where we need no carbon dioxide emissions to keep temperature increase below 1.5 degrees Celsius, not just 'less' emissions.
"Giving billions to the gas industry is robbing us of a safe climate future.
"To truly benefit Kurri and the Coalfields, it would be much better to encourage future focused renewable technology and manufacturing on the Hydro site.
"That would provide jobs for many years to come, unlike a gas-fired power plant."
Friday's protest demanded that no public funds are spent on gas or other fossil fuels.
It asked that money instead be invested into resourcing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led solutions that guarantee land rights and care for country; creating jobs that fast-track solutions to the climate crisis and help communities recover; and on projects that transition the economy and communities to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030, through expanded public ownership.
The Cessnock-Maitland school strikers' online protest invited members of the community to make a sign and send in a photo.
See the resulting video here.