Tens of thousands of students skipped school Friday to attend School Strike 4 Climate rallies across Australia, ahead of the U.N. Climate Summit to be held in New York on Monday.
Part of a global day of action inspired by Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg, protesters gathered for over 100 events across Australia. Police estimated that at least 50,000 people attended a rally in central Sydney that was among the country's largest.
Protesters in Sydney said their top priority is to put an end to the burning of fossil fuels, particularly coal, which makes up roughly 40 percent of Australia's energy production.
"We need to stop (creating carbon) emissions, stop coal production overall," said a 13-year-old girl who provided only her first name Genevieve. "It's having an impact on the Great Barrier Reef."
Parents, office workers and members of multiple labor unions also attended the rally in support of the school students.
"Young people are passionate about doing something and making a change. No one (in power) is doing anything about it, so if we all take a day off school and work, the government has to take notice. They can't just sit back and pretend nothing is happening," said Elliot King, 20.
However, some adults took issue with students walking out of classrooms instead of protesting in their own time.
"What I would say to students around Australia is that school time is a time to go to school," said Finance Minister Mathias Cormann during an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
In March, roughly 150,000 people participated in similar protests around Australia, however estimates suggest Friday's protests will be even larger.