Thousands of Australians marched through every capital city across the country to protest what they say is a lack of government action on climate change and thewhich has been . The fires have killed at least 25 people, as well as an estimated .
Despite the rainy weather, protesters gathered on Friday in cities including Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane and Adelaide. It marked the first major national demonstrations since thestarted in late July. Since then, the flames have of land and several thousand homes.
The nationwide rallies were organized by the national student organization Uni Students for Climate Justice, which believes Prime Minister Scott Morrison isn't responding adequately to the gravity of the situation, which scientists say is linked to climate change.
"We're protesting this Friday because we're outraged about our government's criminal negligence about the said on Facebook., exacerbated by climate change. We are protesting to give a voice to the tens of thousands of people who want real action on climate change and real funding for relief services," the organization
Several of Friday's protests are under the slogan "Sack ScoMo," referring to Scott Morrison. Signs held by protestors read "We deserve more than your negligence," "This is ecosystem collapse," "Make Fossil Fuels History" and "We can't breathe."
Politicians and police criticized the protests, saying that resources would need to be pulled away from the bushfires in order to monitor the crowds.
Australia is the world's largest exporter of coal and liquefied natural gas, which is driving dramatic growth in the country's greenhouse gas pollution. But Morrison rejects criticism that his government is contributing to the crisis.
"We don't want job-destroying, economy-destroying, economy-wrecking targets and goals, which won't change the fact that there have been bushfires or anything like that in Australia," Morrison said in a radio interview Friday, Reuters reports.
Earlier this week, the Australian federal government announced it would establish a new agency with an initial $2 billion to coordinate the response to rebuild communities and livelihoods after the devastating fires have passed.