I have lived in Narrabri, in north-west NSW, since the age of two. I've loved living here, surrounded by family, friends, and community.
Growing up, I would see signs like Lock The Gate or Farms Not Gas by the road. Back then, I didn't fully understand them.
But today, I know coal and gas drive climate change, and harm townships across Australia - including mine.
The idea of more fossil fuels in my community, already battered by climate change and deeply divided by this sensitive issue, angers and distresses me.
Santos's proposed Narrabri gas project will span 95,000-hectares across the Pilliga Forest.
The Independent Planning Commission, which recently granted Whitehaven Coal's Vickery extension, will soon decide on Santos' project.
Our region is still drought affected. We've had heatwaves with temperatures nearing 50°C.
Many farmers have had to choose between staying on the land or selling up.
Santos's project will destroy our climate, fertile lands, groundwater, wildlife and hurt the Gomeroi people, who hold a deep connection to the Pilliga.
The government is also deciding how to spend billions of public money to help the economy recover from the COVID-19 crisis.
This money could build a sustainable future for young Australians, by supporting clean jobs, affordable education, and a safe climate.
Instead, the national COVID-19 commission is calling for a gas-led recovery, and the government could end up giving billions to the destructive gas industry.
Rural communities and young people aren't going to sit around and let our government speed up climate damage.
That's why I started conversations in my community about writing IPC submissions to highlight the environmental impacts of the Vickery and Narrabri projects.
On September 25, I am joining other young people, farmers and First Nations people in a School Strike 4 Climate National Day of Action.
In a COVID-safe protest, I will be posting selfies online with a 'Fund Our Future, Not Gas' sign, encouraging people to post selfies and email their local members.
We will demand the federal government stop funding gas, and back solutions that fix our economy and climate.
As one of the world's sunniest and windiest countries, Australia can ditch fossil fuels and take the lead in a prosperous, renewable-led future.
Neither drought, bushfires, nor pandemic will stop us from uniting to demand a secure future.
Francesca Smith is an 18-year-old School Strike 4 Climate organiser. To get involved, visit www.schoolstrike4climate.com
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