My name is Billy and I am a volunteer with the AYCC in Victoria. I first heard about the AYCC through a friend during a discussion we were having about potential volunteer opportunities. She recommended them highly, and with climate change being something I already had an interest in, I was soon signing my first petitions and then expressed an interest to volunteer.
This is Maddie, Rachel, Paul, Moira and Jaden, a group of Australian young people who were in Paris for the UN Climate Talks. Just one week ago, “L’accord de Paris” was reached at COP21. It was an agreement for all countries to reduce their emissions, to strive to stay below 1.5 degrees warming and avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
Sitting at the back of the hall and trying to make sense of it all, we wrote down our thoughts, and so here they are.
It feels incredibly surreal to see this agreement happen. It has been a long time coming, in fact it has taken our entire lifetimes. Most of us got involved with climate justice activism after witnessing the failure of Copenhagen and feeling disappointed that climate change wasn’t being taken seriously. This year, climate change has brought together more leaders than ever before, and they have finally agreed.
Sad and frustrated
This is no perfect agreement. The commitments that countries have made to reduce their emissions, still add up to over 3 degrees of global warming. We have met too many people here for whom climate change is not a future problem – it is a real and present threat to their survival. We have met people who have seen typhoons, droughts, fires and floods that have killed people in their communities, all because world leaders have been unable to respond to climate change quickly enough.
For them this agreement is far too little and far too late. It is sad that too many voices have not been heard and too many lives have been left in jeopardy by this agreement. It is essential that we do not pretend that this agreement is the solution and that we do not allow it to be the end.
Above all we feel hopeful. Hopeful because there is an incredible, huge, diverse and unstoppable movement dedicated to achieving climate justice. Justice for those in low lying developing nations who are still drowning, for those who are starving because of the changing climate and for each and every person who is harmed by our continued exploitation of our planet.
Here in Paris, thousands and thousands of people have come together to fight for the planet and for their lives. During an action, we stood with thousands of other young people and in solidarity with Indigenous communities on the frontlines of climate change to show our strength and demand an immediate end to the burning of fossil fuels. One chanter led us with the words “We come here, some of us as reformers, others as revolutionaries – but we are all here together united by our rage.”
This people’s movement will ensure that fossil fuels stay in the ground and that big companies are not allowed to condemn us to catastrophic climate change. The movement will ensure that from here on out, we are the ones who decide on our future.