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Meet Australia’s Greta Thunberg climate strike organiser Harriet O’Shea Carre

A teenage girl leading Australia’s school climate strike wishes she was in class learning, but says the lives at stake are more important.

Harriet O’Shea-Carre is the face of School Strike for Climate, which organised protests that saw 300,000 people rally around the country on Friday.

The Victorian schoolgirl has been compared to fellow teenage campaigner Greta Thunberg, 16, who on Monday voiced her concerns to Donald Trump.

‘We will sacrifice whatever we need to, even our futures, until the government takes real action on climate change,’ Harriet told Daily Mail Australia.

Harriet O’Shea-Carre is the face of School Strike for Climate, which organised protests that saw 300,000 people rally around the country on Friday

Millions of people from across the globe are walked out of work and school as part of 'Strike 4 Climate Action' held on Friday

Millions of people from across the globe are walked out of work and school as part of ‘Strike 4 Climate Action’ held on Friday

‘The younger you are, the more you will be affected so we need to be part of the decisions with politicians who won’t see the worst of it.

‘I should be in school and I wish I was, but people’s lives are more important. When politicians step up, we’ll go back to class.’

Harriet, a Year 9 student in Castlemaine, about 120km northwest of Melbourne, said her drastic action was the only way to get the government to listen.

‘Kids can’t vote, so this is the only way we can change anything. It will be too late soon and people are already literally dying,’ she said. 

Harriet’s protest started almost a year ago as she and classmates Milou Albrecht and Callum Neilson-Bridgefoot were on the bus to school.

Milou showed them an article she read about Greta going on a solo climate strike in her native Sweden, before anyone knew who she was.

‘She was really excited about it and after reading it we were inspired to do the same thing,’ she recalled. 

Harriet, a Year 9 student in Castlemaine, about 120km northwest of Melbourne, said her drastic action, along with that of her friend and fellow organiser Milou Albrecht (left) was the only way to get the government to listen

Harriet, a Year 9 student in Castlemaine, about 120km northwest of Melbourne, said her drastic action, along with that of her friend and fellow organiser Milou Albrecht (left) was the only way to get the government to listen

Harriet's protest started almost a year ago as she and classmates were on the bus to school and Milou (left) showed them an article she read about Greta going on a solo climate strike in her native Sweden

Harriet’s protest started almost a year ago as she and classmates were on the bus to school and Milou (left) showed them an article she read about Greta going on a solo climate strike in her native Sweden

Harriet said her parents were surprised and confused at first, but were in full support of her efforts - even at the potential cost of her schooling

Harriet said her parents were surprised and confused at first, but were in full support of her efforts – even at the potential cost of her schooling

The trio organised a strike among their classmates last October and wrote a letter to The Age explaining why.

‘Please don’t say that because we are children we can’t think for ourselves and that we’ve been brainwashed. This is an excuse adults use to ignore kids,’ they wrote.

Within a month, protests of 10,000 people led by children walking out of school sprung up around the country, but were slammed by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

‘We don’t support the idea of kids not going to school to participate in things that can be dealt with outside of school,’ he said last December.

‘We don’t support our schools being turned into parliaments. What we want is more learning in schools and less activism in schools.’

Instead of discouraging the students, Mr Morrison’s comments drew more to the strike’s cause who were upset with having their concerns dismissed.

‘I never imagined it would get this big this quickly,’ Harriet admitted.

‘We grew up thinking no one else cared and hearing politicians who will be the least affected by climate change saying they won’t do anything.

‘The strike made me realise people do care and this movement is bringing them together.’

Harriet and her classmates organised a strike among their classmates last October that kicked off the movement

Harriet and her classmates organised a strike among their classmates last October that kicked off the movement

Harriet partakes in one of her energetic hobbies at a local gym in her hometown

Harriet partakes in one of her energetic hobbies at a local gym in her hometown

Harriet said she spent a lot of time on her climate efforts and skipped class every Friday in the leadup to the election.

Only being in Year 9, her schoolwork hasn’t been badly affected, but she knows as she gets older her grades at the business end of high school will suffer.

‘It’s difficult because I have high education goals and it’s sad for me to have to let them go,’ she said.

‘I shouldn’t have to choose between them, it’s not fair, but that’s how it is and people don’t understand.’

Harriet said her parents were surprised and confused at first, but were in full support of her efforts – even at the potential cost of her schooling.

‘They would rather I was uneducated and alive than dead (when climate change gets very bad),’ she said.

‘We’re supposed to use education to make the world a better place, and I’m trying to do that now.’ 

Harriet said she spent a lot of time on her climate efforts and skipped class every Friday in the leadup to the election

Harriet said she spent a lot of time on her climate efforts and skipped class every Friday in the leadup to the election

Harriet put Labor's election loss down to it being difficult to show obvious links between a warming planet and the effects she said were already beginning, but she was hopeful opinions would change in three years

Harriet put Labor’s election loss down to it being difficult to show obvious links between a warming planet and the effects she said were already beginning, but she was hopeful opinions would change in three years

The demonstration is the biggest climate mobilisation in country's history, with a whopping 100,000 protesters taking to the streets in Melbourne to demand change

The demonstration is the biggest climate mobilisation in country’s history, with a whopping 100,000 protesters taking to the streets in Melbourne to demand change

Harriet said she was disappointed by the May 18 election result, in which Labor was stunningly beaten in part because of fears its climate policy would hurt jobs.

She put this down to it being difficult to show obvious links between a warming planet and the effects she said were already beginning, but she was hopeful opinions would change in three years.

‘We’re already seeing severe impacts like the drought and more bushfires, and it will get worse and people’s minds will change,’ she said.

However, School Strike for Climate is not blind to the effects its demands to scrap the coal and other fossil fuel industry by 2030 will have on those who work in them.

To deal with this, the group wants the government to ‘fund a just transition and job creation for all fossil-fuel workers and communities’.

‘Many of us live in coal communities. Many of our families and friends work in the industry,’ it said in a statement this weekend.

While the massive protests went on around Australia on Friday, Harriet was in New York attending the United Nations Youth Climate Summit alongside Greta Thunberg

While the massive protests went on around Australia on Friday, Harriet was in New York attending the United Nations Youth Climate Summit alongside Greta Thunberg

'It was an incredible opportunity and I gained valuable experience and ideas that I will take home to Australia tomorrow,' she said

‘It was an incredible opportunity and I gained valuable experience and ideas that I will take home to Australia tomorrow,’ she said

‘We understand the role coal has played in putting food on the table for our families and providing employment in regional areas. 

‘Climate justice is not about pitting people against one another and pointing the finger. It’s not about jobs versus the environment. Just as climate change hurts people, unemployment hurts people too.’ 

While the massive protests went on around Australia on Friday, Harriet was in New York attending the United Nations Youth Climate Summit alongside Greta.

‘It was an incredible opportunity and I gained valuable experience and ideas that I will take home to Australia tomorrow,’ she said.

‘Our movement is all about collaboration, our voice is so strong together and we need to share ideas.’ 

Harriet and a few supporters visited AIG's Manhattan headquarters to encourage the company not to insure the Adani mine, but were surrounded in the lobby by security and thrown out

Harriet and a few supporters visited AIG’s Manhattan headquarters to encourage the company not to insure the Adani mine, but were surrounded in the lobby by security and thrown out

While in New York she also requested to speak with executives from AIG, the company insuring the Adani mine, with an impassioned plea for it to withdraw coverage.

‘As children, we are going to be living in this hot world far longer than the adults who are making these decisions for us, and our future cannot be one that is powered by coal and other fossil fuels,’ she wrote.

‘I understand that as a child, my opinion may not matter to you a whole awful lot, so I want you to know that even though I am only small, I represent thousands of other people, and I hope that you can think of my, and all the other youths, future before insuring the mine.’

When her request was denied, Harriet and a few supporters visited AIG’s Manhattan headquarters but were surrounded in the lobby by security and thrown out. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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