“Koalas, Not Coal”: Climate Protests Draw Thousands in Australia Amidst Bushfires

Thousands of people across Australia outraged over a lack of action and being “forgotten” amid deadly bushfires are demanding more from their government.

Thousands of people across Australia, outraged over a lack of action and being “forgotten” amid deadly bushfires, protested to demand their government do more to combat the climate crisis.

On Friday, protests erupted in nine major cities, including Sydney and Melbourne. Protesters are asking leaders in Australia to take a bigger step in tackling the climate crisis and to steer away from use of fossil fuels. 

In New South Wales, which has suffered severe damage from the fires, 30,000 people rallied in its capital, Sydney, according to police. Organizers of the group Uni Students for Climate Justice say 50,000 to 60,000 people were actually there. In Melbourne, 10,000 people took to the streets. 

The biggest issue protesters have voiced is with Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who has received backlash for his response to the bushfires that started in September and have since ravaged huge portions of the country, killing more than 20 people and an estimated 1 billion animals. 

“You control the funding, and we were forgotten," one woman said last week.

Despite the criticism, Morrison has stood by his response to the fires, saying “People are very emotionally raw, people have lost everything and I obviously don't take that personally.” 

Protesters were heard chanting “ScoMo has got to go,” demanding the resignation of the prime minister. 

Some of the protesters have had to evacuate their homes because of the fires. Some of the signs they carried read “Koalas Not Coal,” and “We’re Fired Up About Climate Action.” 

“We've had decades to deal with it and successive governments have done nothing,” Kris Stevens of NSW told CNN. “The Earth is a finite resource. You can't have an economy on a dead planet.” 

The rallies demanded more funding for first responders, relief and aid to parts of the country affected, and for the government to take climate action.