"Fund our future not gas".
This was the resounding call from hundreds and students and supporters who came together for Ballarat's School Strike for Climate on Friday.
About 500 people including up to 250 students marched down Sturt Street from Victoria Park to Alfred Deakin Place where five students from different schools made passionate speeches.
The united group chanted for the federal government to take climate action and end the use of coal as an energy source.
"No more gas or oil, keep your carbon in the soil," was heard as the group walked down Sturt Street.
"The youth are rising, no more compromising," they yelled.
The protest came after the federal government pledged another $58.6 million to its 'gas-led' recovery in the budget released last week.
The government this week confirmed it would invest up to $600 million build a new gas-fired power plant in the Hunter Valley.
Clarendon College student Sehnil Nawar in her speech at Alfred Deakin Place said the government was 'failing us' with its funding for gas.
"They are in a prime position to fund and implement environmentally friendly initiatives," she said.
"Their plans to fund gas will accelerate the effects of climate change.
"The time for transition fuels was 20 years ago. Now is the time for efficient and decisive action."
The speakers spoke emotionally about climate change, demonstrating their passion and desperation for change and deep anger at the lack of government action on climate.
Students held signs that read 'denial is not a policy', 'this is not the hot girl summer we wanted' and 'give us back our future'.
Ballarat High School student Harper Fitzpatrick said in her speech she hoped the climate movement would be comparable to the anti-war, civil rights and gay rights movements led by young people in the past.
She painted a picture with her words of a life in 2050 if Australia was successful in halving emissions every decade.
She talked about clean air, improved standards of living and communities working together to compost, grow vegetables and capture rainwater.
Ballarat Grammar student Penny Young said big companies that were responsible for a high percentage of the world's carbon emissions should take responsibility to make big change.
"Why must we take pledges to recycle, eat organic or bike to work when they emit over 55 million tonnes of CO2 each year," she said.
Loreto College student Lila Fields talked about the inequality of climate change during her speech and made calls for 'climate justice'.
"Sea level rise is destroying the homes of our neighbours in the Pacific Islands," she said.
"They are set to become climate refugees. First Nations people here in Australia, especially those who live in remote areas, will bear the cost of environmental destruction more acutely than all of us.
"Climate change cannot be separated from existing social issues... Our future cannot just be climate action, it needs to be climate justice.
"Climate justice means enacting policies to reduce inequality. Climate justice means making decisions to reduce this burden on these communities in a fair and transparent way."
Ballarat Grammar student Marco Pasakos encouraged people in attendance to call and write to their local MPs calling for climate action.
The students were joined by teachers, families with young children and other supporters including those from older generations and political leaders Cr Belinda Coates and Wendouree MP Juliana Addison.
Fifteen Trees founder and director Colleen Filippa pledged to plant one native tree for every student in attendance at the strike.
She said it was a way to acknowledge the students' efforts and support an actionable outcome.
"There is always a lot of talk. I am really big on climate action. These kids are being active today and being activists. The trees is a little something that comes from it," she said.
The School Strike For Climate was held in cities and regional areas across Australia on Friday.
The movement led by school students broadly calls for no new coal, oil or gas projects and 100 per cent renewable energy generation by 2030.
The third call is funding for a just transition and job creation for fossil fuel workers and communities.
Students in attendance at the Ballarat strike spoke about a desire to live and raise their children in a healthy world.
"We are growing up in a different kind of world than the older generation and we are going to have a different perspective on it, so our perspective needs to be heard," Damascus College student Grace Vermeend said.
"It is very unifying and it is a proud thing to observe because we can all work together to try to make change."
"We are the ones who are coming into voting and we are going to be the next leaders of the country so it is really important we are sharing our opinions," Damascus College student Kiara Dowie said.
Loreto College student Gabrielle Dewar said support from her school to attend the strike made her feel listened to.
"I really love that my school is supporting this," she said.
"In the past it wasn't supported and the school recognised it was a safety issue. I feel like we are finally getting listened to as the younger generation when we are not usually listened to."
Student strike organisers will meet next week and say they will work to plan another strike before the end of the year.
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