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.
Last week on Channel 10’s The Project, host Waleed Aly challenged us to care about climate change. For the sake of future generations, the most marginalised in our society, and around the world who are already feeling the impacts of global warming, we must not only care, we must act.
In 2015, the need for action is only becoming more obvious and the issue of justice lies at its core. In March, following his island nation being devastated by Cyclone Pam, Vanuatu President Lonsdale blamed climate change for the monster cyclone that had ravaged his country. These are people who have had the least to do with the problem, and are already paying the highest price. This is the world young people globally are inheriting.
In 2015, Australians can now look back on two years of our government being bad neighbours to our friends in the Pacific, and being bad elders to anyone under thirty who have not lived in a year of below average global temperatures.
Since 2013 we have seen investment in one of our strongest tools for climate action, renewable energy, virtually freeze in Australia despite major growth globally. The blame for this lies squarely with our Prime Minister, who despite promising not to cut the Renewable Energy Target, has since being elected waged a war of attrition against clean energy in Australia. This war became public the moment Tony Abbott tapped climate sceptic and oil man Dick Warburton on the shoulder to conduct a now utterly discredited review of our Renewable Energy Target.
This drawn out and discredited review has led to an investment freeze, thousands of jobs lost and put at risk, and has pushed the renewable energy industry to its knees. This review has pushed the industry so far that it has even offered to accept a massive cut to the target so that it can get on with building solar and wind across Australia. The Government refuses to budge.
In 2015, the year world leaders will meet in Paris to discuss again how they will tackle this urgent and creeping crisis, Australia’s behaviour just isn’t good enough. Australians care - polls consistently show Australians want a higher Renewable Energy Target, not cuts. But our leaders are failing to act with the ambition the science requires.
This year Australia will take its 2030 emissions reduction targets to the world, as a nation we need to set our 2030 goals for renewable energy. It’s time our government and the Labor Party, who will be deciding their future climate policy at their national conference in July, showed young people they are prepared to take our future seriously. We want to see Australia on the path to 100% renewable energy, not becoming more reliant on fossil fuels as this Government seems hell bent on making us.
The stakes are incredibly high, it’s not an understatement to say that what we are doing now is deciding the future young people will grow up in. That’s why Waleed is right. That’s why Australians should and do care about climate change, and most importantly why Tony Abbott and Bill Shorten should start acting on climate change like they mean it.
Daniel Spencer is a National Campaigner at the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, representing over 100,000 young Australians.