“The Coalition is rapidly recognising that climate action is on the agenda for their voters as well as the rest of Australia,” she says. “So they’re going to start talking about adaptation, and all those fancy words about how we’re going to deal with the climate crisis instead of how to stop the climate crisis. That’s going to be a real challenge for the movement.”
Which is why, away from the headline-grabbing mass rallies, Khan and her comrades have spent hours camped outside Parliament House each Friday for the past year. “We had a state government minister tell us to go back to school, and a lot of angry boomers stopping to give us a piece of their minds,” she says. “But also some really positive interactions; I think people are really heartened to see young people engaging with these issues, showing some persistence and resilience. I’ve read a lot about how older people have seen our strikes, seen our signs and thought ‘these young people are speaking to me’, which empowers them to take more action.”
Last year critics of the strikers suggested they go back to school
and quit worrying, a silencing tactic that seems laughable after weeks of news
reports showing a continent beset by fire, hail and floods. But while there is
certainly fear and anxiety among the strikers, there is also great resolve, as
Khan and her comrades find strength and solidarity in the face of these rather
“A lot of us struggle to imagine or plan our futures knowing that civilisation could come crumbling down in the next two decades or so if we continue on this current path of warming,” she reflects, in rather apocalyptic terms that seem less hyperbolic than they might have six months ago.
“It does get disheartening at times, but the network that we’ve built is a massive source of support. So many people feel the same way, and these strikes bring people together and convey that we’re all terrified, but we’ve got each other and community power, and there’s still time and hope to fix this.
“We don’t have time for despair.”
Doha Khan will speak at WOMADelaide’s Planet Talks on Friday 6 March