by Greta Yeoman
Young supporters of climate change action took over the footpath outside the Timaru District Council offices last Friday afternoon.
The South Canterbury protest on March 15 was part of the national and international School Strike 4 Climate movement, which was inspired by 16-year-old Swedish school pupil Greta Thunberg, who has been striking from school every Friday since August 2018 to protest against inaction on climate change.
A group of intermediate school pupils in Victoria, Australia, took the protest international last year and it grew to include New Zealand.
The South Canterbury contingent included pupils from Roncalli College, Grantlea Downs School, Timaru Girls’ High School, Craighead Diocesan School and Mountainview High School, along with Ara Polytechnic students.
While the protest in Christchurch was shut down after the mass shooting in the city, the Timaru strike was over before the news broke.
The climate action prompted Timaru Mayor Damon Odey to announce he was reconsidering the council’s decision not to sign the Local Government Declaration on Climate Change and would be taking it to the next council meeting for another discussion.
As reported by The Courier last month, none of South Canterbury’s three district councils has signed up to the 2017 Local Government New Zealand Climate Declaration – despite 55 other councils backing it.
While the mayors of the Waimate and Mackenzie districts, along with Mr Odey, had defended their decision not to sign the declaration, he was now reconsidering the Timaru council’s position, Mr Odey told protesters on Friday.
He had previously told The Courier the declaration was “another vague statement” on climate change action.