Australia: First teachers union branch declares a climate emergency

As the first Tasmanian union to declare climate emergency, the Australian Education Union’s Tasmanian Branch has called for urgent action from state and federal governments to protect their students’ future.

“Tasmanian teachers won’t sit by while governments burn our students’ futures. Where governments are failing, our students are taking action and we’re proud to join them until we get the leadership the climate emergency demands.”

“We are facing a climate emergency,” said Primary Teacher and AEU Branch Council Member Alison Jales. “Climate change is happening with greater speed and devastation than predicted. In the past week, as we have seen the devastating effects of climate change in the form of bushfires destroying homes and lives along Australia’s East Coast, our government has refused to even discuss the climate emergency.”

The motion passed at the AEU Tasmanian Branch Council meeting commits the union to support student-led strikes and actions focused on the climate emergency, write to government leaders, lead union campaigns on the issue and investigate divestment options to withdraw funding from fossil fuel projects.

The declaration is the first from a Tasmanian union, but joins Hobart, Launceston and Kingborough Councils, the Australian Medical Association, the Australian Association of Social Workers and over 11,000 scientists in the BioScience journal two weeks earlier.

Alison Jales said:
“Tasmania needs to show leadership on this issue – Will Hodgman needs to acknowledge the threat this climate emergency poses to our children and our state and get on the phone to Scott Morrison immediately.”

“The impact of climate breakdown and ecological collapse will affect all of our young people. This is not fair. We want our children to be able to live safely in good health and experience all the beauty and joy our planet has to offer.”

“It’s our job to educate and support our students to learn about the climate emergency. The Australian Curriculum has sustainability as one of its cross-curriculum priorities, defined as addressing the ‘ongoing capacity of Earth to maintain all life’. It’s also our job to protect our students and ensure their safety now and into the future.”

Other calls
A coalition of 23 former Fire and Emergency Leaders, including former Tasmania Fire Service chief fire officer Mike Brown, with more than 600 years of combined experience, have repeated their call for the federal government to declare a climate emergency and take necessary action.

The Australian College of Emergency Medicine is holding its national conference in Hobart this week with the theme ‘the changing climate of emergency medicine’.

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