March 15 is going to be a big day for many school children around the world. That's when school kids from over 50 nations, including this country, will be walking out of schools in protest at government inaction against climate change. Not bunking, not wagging, but striking.

The movement was started by Greta Thunberg, a Swedish student, now 16, who initiated a solo protest last August.

Leading up to Sweden's general election on September 9, she sat outside parliament during school hours with a sign saying "School strike for climate".

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Students across Europe were inspired by Greta's example and #schoolstrike4climate was born, leading to coordinated school strikes on February 15, when tens of thousands of students participated across the UK and Europe.

Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, center, leads a march of thousands of French students through Paris, France, last month. Photo/AP
Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, center, leads a march of thousands of French students through Paris, France, last month. Photo/AP

The speed with which the movement has grown reflects the anger that young people feel at continued inaction by governments. They know the science, they know that their futures are far from hopeful right now, and they want politicians to act.

One of Greta's more memorable quotes, which has gone viral, puts it this way: "For way too long, the politicians and the people in power have gotten away with not doing anything to fight the climate crisis, but we will make sure that they will not get away with it any longer. We are striking because we have done our homework and they have not."

A catalyst for the depth of feeling was the widely publicised report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) from October last year, which stated unequivocally that we had 12 years to slash carbon emissions or warming would reach crisis levels.

Student activists are rightly pointing out that climate change is going to impact them the most, yet because of the age limits on voting, they have no means of representation. They have no votes which politicians have to worry about.

Striking and other forms of direct action is the only way they can make their voices heard.

Russell School pupils Kira Kammerer, 12, Evie Trotter, 9, and Lia Kammerer, 12, have organised fellow pupils to strike on March 15 to protest against lack of action on climate change. Photo/Supplied
Russell School pupils Kira Kammerer, 12, Evie Trotter, 9, and Lia Kammerer, 12, have organised fellow pupils to strike on March 15 to protest against lack of action on climate change. Photo/Supplied

In New Zealand, groups of students in schools across the country have signed up to strike at #FridaysForFuture, including in Russell, as covered in this paper on Monday. There are marches planned in the main centres. In Wellington, students will be marching to Parliament where they'll be met by MPs.

Hopefully, more students across Tai Tokerau will be inspired to take part. And let's hope that teachers and principals respect their right to organise and make a political statement.

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A sensible suggestion has been made that teachers should turn the strike into a learning opportunity. Kids could be asked to write about the experience of striking and explain why they're doing it.

I can say with some certainty that it won't be the students who are repeatedly absent from school for no reason that will be striking. It will be the most responsible, focused and determined ones who will be leading these actions.

How many students will be downing pens and iPads worldwide isn't clear as yet, but March 15 may well mark the first day of global youth-driven rebellion against societal inaction on climate change. As the movement builds and grows, as I'm predicting it will, it will likely kickstart many adults into taking direct action too.

With so much that's depressing about the global situation, I'm looking forward to next Friday with much anticipation. We need this.