Following the release of the Climate Council report on how gas is harming our health, young people in the School Strike 4 Climate (SS4C) network are concerned for their health, the health of their peers and the health of the climate.
Bailey Linton-Simpkins, 16, said: “I find it incredibly disturbing that the majority of NSW public schools still use unflued gas heaters when not a single NSW private school nor any schools in states and territories outside of NSW do.
“They do not use them for the simple but severe reason that gas poses a myriad of risks to our health! How are NSW public school students expected to not only function but excel at school when the link between unfiltered gas heaters and asthma symptoms, indoor air pollution, allergic reactions, and many more adverse effects on health is unmistakable?
“The government owes my peers and I an answer to this.”
The report recommends that the New South Wales government should join other Australian Governments by accelerating the replacement of unflued gas heaters in NSW public schools with zero emissions alternatives like reverse cycle air conditioning and heat pumps.
Significantly, it details that unflued gas heaters are not used in schools in other states and territories, partly because of the risk that they pose.
Consistent with advice from NSW Health, unflued gas heaters are also generally not used in NSW private schools, yet in July 2020, it was reported to the State Parliament that unflued gas heaters were still in use in the majority of NSW public schools.
Whilst other states and territories are phasing out gas in all new home builds, it is still a core source of heating within NSW’s public schools.
Kayla Hill, 16, said: “When it comes to the disproportionate effects of a grossly mishandled climate, us public school kids have it rather tough. Those of us studying in Western Sydney; tougher.
“Personally, I do not see how our government thinks it appropriate to continue funding gas projects to such significant extents – let alone at all – when this report makes it utterly clear how detrimental the effects of gas-fired power is on an everyday level.
“I am anxious for myself and my fellow students – our government ought to be as well.”
Bailey and Kayla will be joining thousands of other young people across the nation on Friday 21 May, striking from school to tell the Morrison Government that future investments and taxpayer funding of gas is not the way forward.