I’m Gemma, the AYCC’s new National Director and I can’t wait to meet you.

The time for feeling like you can’t do anything on climate change is over

It’s an exciting and challenging time to be taking on this new role. It’s almost the middle of 2017,  we’re facing another ‘hottest year on record’, we’ve just seen our national treasure the Great Barrier Reef mostly bleached for the second year in a row, and we’ve got a Federal Government who’s hell bent on propping up a dying fossil fuel industry and spreading their own fake news about renewable energy.

It’s not surprising that I hear from so many young people all across the country that they’re not sure they can do anything to fight the climate crisis.

But it’s just not true. You can, we’ll do it together, by building a powerful movement of young people. What if I told you this is always how change happens in history - young people like you have led it.

Every single time from the civil rights movement to women's rights and to stopping apartheid you’ll find that it was a group of young people with a big ambitious idea and plan that created the urgent change we needed.

The truth is, we’re winning already. Renewable energy is cheaper than coal fired power and all across the world we’re installing and building more and more large scale renewable energy like wind farms and solar thermal plants. The transition to renewables is happening already.

But we’ve got to stay ambitious, because we're fighting against vested interests. AYCC’s big vision is to power Australia with 100% renewable energy, to get there we need to:

  • Stop digging up and burning fossil fuels

  • Build renewable energy everywhere we can - starting with 24hr solar power in Port Augusta

  • Make sure communities on the front lines have everything they need to fight and respond to the climate crisis.

We can only achieve this vision if we can build a huge and diverse movement of young people, greater than the sum of its parts, to shift the politics and move the money out of fossil fuels and into renewables.

It’s going to take everyone, that means no matter who you are, what you believe in, the colour of your skin or where you’re from, there’s a place and role for you in fighting the climate crisis alongside the AYCC and Seed.

Our first challenge to achieving this vision together is to #StopAdani.

I’m sure you’ve heard about Adani’s ridiculous plans to build a dangerous coal mine near the Great Barrier Reef risking water, country and our climate. So far, with our friends in the movement, we’ve delayed their projects for over five years.

Currently there isn’t a bank in the world that wants to fund this project which means they’ve got no money to get started. We’re currently campaigning to get Westpac to rule out their involvement, and pressure the Government not to grant a $1 billion loan for the project.

Stopping Adani is going to take everyone, you, me, our friends, families, people who you go to school or uni with, and loads of others. In hundreds of communities across the country groups have sprung up on this campaign.

We’ve had so many wins along the way: shrinking the scale of Adani’s project, major Australian banks ruling out their involvement and our Prime Minister committing to no funding for Adani’s mine. It’s time to win once and for all!  

So how do you get involved?

Sign up here at www.aycc.org.au/volunteer and buy your ticket to Power Shift 2017. Power Shift is three day summit for young people to meet other young people just like you who care about the issue and learn new skills to empower your community to fight the climate crisis. www.powershift2017.org.au

To be honest Power Shift is where I learnt I had the power to do something about climate change and be part of a movement that wins and creates change. In 2010, I was at uni doing a comms degree at UTS, I had just voted in my first election. My community had experienced a huge storm which wiped out a huge part of my local beach. I knew I wanted to do something about climate change  but I didn’t know what. Someone showed me a video of an AYCC flashmob action in class one day and said “these people sound like your kind of people, maybe quit whinging and go join them” and the rest is history.

After that day, I went to Power Shift 2010 in Canberra, met some some of my now best friends from NSW where we went home and started a state branch of over 100 volunteers and campaigned to get the price on carbon, I was our fundraising director in 2012/13, and for the last few years leading our campaign to Stop Adani. There’s no place I’d rather be at this point in history than fighting the climate crisis with young people. 

So ask yourself this - if you don’t get involved now, then when? If it’s not you then who? Young people have always been far more powerful than we’ve ever been led to believe.

I can’t wait to meet you, I’ll be by your side fighting every step of the way. I want to finish by saying thank you to the incredible, fearless and visionary women who’ve led the AYCC before me, it’s only the foundations of your strong legacy that allow me to take on this challenge.

Yours in power ✊