STUDENTS from across Australia have written to Hunter coal workers on the eve of a climate action strike in Newcastle today, after Wednesday's landmark rejection of the Bylong coal mine because of "intergenerational inequity".
Seventeen students from all Australian states and the ACT, including Newcastle organiser Alexa Stuart of Lambton High School, have told coal miners in the Hunter and other mining centres that they "stand in solidarity" with them "in our struggle for a safe climate and a better future".
"The changes we need to make will affect everyone, but young people, those living on the frontline of climate impacts and communities like yours, will be affected most," said Ms Stuart and other strike organisers including Sara Mckoy from Queensland, Emma Demarchi from Victoria, Evan Meneses from South Australia and Aden Kenworthy from Western Australia.
"It is up to all of us to ensure that we tackle the climate crisis to avoid further harm to people, but that we do it in a way that does not cause harm to communities and workers," the student strikers said in a letter released to the Newcastle Herald.
"Tackling climate change is a huge challenge, bigger than any we've faced before. Experts have told us that mining and burning coal is the primary cause of these impacts. But that does not mean coal workers are to blame.
"Many of us live in coal communities. Many of our families and friends work in the industry. We understand the role coal has played in putting food on the table for our families and providing employment in regional areas. As we work to stop more dangerous climate change, we stand with you - not against you.
"Our frustration and anger about climate inaction is not directed at you, but at the people in power, who are failing to bring us together to create climate solutions that don't leave any of us behind.
"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. "And that is why we need to work together - communities, industry and governments at all levels. We need to put aside the politics and sit down respectfully to work out a solution to this problem, because too many people stand to suffer if we do not."
"As workers, you and your families deserve respect, certainty and sustainable employment. As young people, we deserve a safe future and policies that don't hand us more extreme heat, drought, storms, food and water insecurity.
"None of us deserve to live in fear. We can work together in a fair transition to the industries of the future that protect our climate and livelihoods."
Read the full article in the Newcastle Herald here