The Morrison government’s controversial gas plan has drawn the ire of Australian students calling to instead pump funding into renewable energy and clean technology.

Students gathered at about 500 events across the nation on Friday as part of the School Strike for Climate campaign.

While the global initiative drew an estimated crowd of 300,000 people across Australia in 2019, this year’s events were far more subdued with COVID-19 safety measures in place.

More than a dozen school students strung up about 100 placards along washing lines in Sydney to represent those who could not attend.

As it bucketed rain in Canberra, students also planted cardboard signs out the front of Parliament House that read “Save Planet A”, “Gas is a Death Sentence” and “Act Now or Swim Later”.

A large “Fund our Futures – Not Gas” banner behind it drove home the student’s core message to the government to stimulate the economy and cut emissions through renewables.

The Melbourne event, meanwhile, was forced online due to the locked-down city’s ban on physical protests.

One of its lead organisers, 16-year-old Anjali Sharma, said the federal government’s lack of action on climate change gave young people little choice but to protest.

“Although the pandemic has brought the world to a halt, it certainly hasn’t brought the climate crisis to a halt and that is why we cannot stop protesting this and demanding that the government prioritise our futures over anything else,” she said.

Brisbane student Neha Pauly said Prime Minister Scott Morrison should invest COVID-19 recovery funds into renewable energy, creating jobs while tackling climate change.

“Giving taxpayer dollars to the polluting gas industry is putting the interests of the gas industry ahead of the public interest,” she said.

The year 11 schoolgirl is also calling on Queensland state MPs to rule out funding gas and commit to clean energy jobs.

“We are the Sunshine State, we need to make the most of it,” she said.