Their banner carried the words from Pope Francis’ 2015 Encyclical Laudato Si’ – on Care for our Common Home:
“ Fossil fuels, especially coal need to be replaced"
"Coal communities need a just transition”
Mr Hayes reported that:
“All the Newcastle activities were led by very knowledgeable and sensible school kids. All the speeches were by high school children, who know their science and politics."
There were many references about the need for the government to plan a just transition away from coal and towards renewable energy technologies; and for plans that need to be made now - for affected workers and communities as the world coal market declines.
It was noted that in Germany - some years ago, the Government there implemented an 11-year plan for the transition away from coal in the Ruhr Valley; but that in Australia – The Government had no plans at all for a just transition.
He said the make up of the crowd in Civic Park was probably over 50% school-aged children; and the balance across all ages: babies and toddlers; young and not-so-young parents; university Students; trade unionists carrying their flags; lots of young adults in their 20's to 50’s; and many grandparents.
There were reports that similar strikes and rallies in Sydney attracted 80,000 people; 100,000 in Melbourne; across more than 100 cities and towns in Australia - a total of more than 300,000; and across the world more than 2,000,000.
Mr Hayes concluded by saying, “ We have much to learn from the young ones”.