Youth Decide

Our Climate, Our Future, Our Choice.

We, as young people, will inherit the consequences of the decisions being made by world leaders at the United Nations summit this December.

All young people have the right to a safe climate future, and we deserve a say in what it looks like. Together we have the power to create a safe future for us all. Start by having your say today!

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Our Climate

The many faces of Climate Change

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Meet Jerome (Food & Farming)

Hey, my name is Jerome and I’m in year 11 at Saint Ignatius College in Sydney. I care about climate change because I care about the environment and can see the impacts climate change is already having on the land and communities I care about. Acting now means reducing this impact on the people and places I love.

 

I have always had a connection to the environment and I think that it is clearly evident to everyone that the environment is being destroyed. Over the past decade I have visited my aunt’s cattle farm out near Armidale in Northern NSW most holidays and I have noticed that water is becoming a precious resource due to drought.

 

Last year, the cattle had to be moved to fewer paddocks because there was not enough water to sustain all of them. Just recently I was camping out near the farm and you can see the impact of drought on the land, and the people who live there. The communities who rely on regular rain for their incomes are gradually having to move off the land where many families have been farming for hundreds of years.

 

And unfortunately, it’s not just families like mine that are being affected, but communities around the country, and the world. Recently I found out about the communities and countries in the Pacific Islands that are being forced from their homes because of rising sea levels. It’s so unfair to me that people around the world who have either contributed so little to global warming, or who are trying to provide food for the rest of the country are being so badly affected. This destruction of communities, land and countries will have irreversible effects if it is allowed to go on for much longer.
There are many examples of the degrading environment around us, all we need to do is just look. To fix it we have to work together as one, using resources around us to protect what we love. And young people have the power to do this – if we work together.

Meet Marie (Energy & Innovation)

Hi there, my name is Marie and I am a Year 10 student living in Wollongong on the NSW south coast. I care about climate change because if we act now, communities like mine have the opportunity to benefit from a transition to clean, green energy sources- from the sun and wind.

 

The Illawarra region, where I live, is changing. For as long as I can remember, people in my community have worked in jobs that are linked to Wollongong’s port, steel works and coal mines. These jobs have kept the community going for a long time. In the last few years though, I have noticed that the places where people used to work are changing.

 

In September, a local coal mine, Russell Vale, was suspended, which caused the loss of 80 mining jobs including electricians, operators and fitters. Some of those employees were the parents of students at my school and as a result, they have been forced to relocate to other areas in Australia to find jobs. And it’s not just them. Lots of jobs in the local steel works have been lost too. This is having a big impact on my community.

 

Our current situation may feel hard to comprehend and impossible to solve but there are many

innovative solutions. I don’t think that the people who have lost their jobs should have to move away from the Illawarra to find work. By converting industries to renewable resources or creating more secure jobs that don’t impact our environment in such a negative way, we can ensure we provide secure and stable jobs, for me and my friends, and our whole community for the long term.

 

We don’t want to continue to feel the social and environmental impacts of climate change. We want a future that is not impacted by worsening extreme weather events like heat waves in summer, unusually high temperatures in Winter, and long dry periods, increasing the risk of bushfires. Instead, we want a safe climate, healthy community and a brighter future. As the leaders of tomorrow, we think we can do it, with a little help from the leaders of today.

Meet Angel (Culture & Community)

Galangoor Dhjali (Good day). I am a proud Butchulla Aboriginal woman from Fraser Island (K’gari), I am 17 and I live north of Brisbane, in Queensland. I care about climate change because for Indigenous Australians, including myself, the impacts of climate change are being widely felt – from rising sea levels in the Torres Strait, to the loss of sacred country nationwide. Acting now means protecting my culture and my community.

 

Being of Aboriginal descent, the land is a part of my history – and a part of me. My ancestors who walked before me lived on this land sustainably for tens of thousands of years. We have a proud history of protecting the land. Despite this though, we are amongst the first and worst impacted by climate change. One of the big impacts we are already experiencing is the loss of our song lines which is distorting our dreamtimes which are irreplaceable, and a big part of our identity and my culture.

 

For me, I feel the impacts of climate change – not just as an Aboriginal woman, but as a young person. Climate change is affecting my local community annually. In the last 5 years, we have seen major flooding, a category 5 cyclone and bushfires. Not only did my family and I lose almost everything we had due to flooding, we are also gradually losing parts of the magical coastline I have grown up next to.

 

Growing up, I remember jumping around in the mangroves, shucking oysters from the rocks and teasing my sisters with soldier crabs. Each year though, the intensity of cyclones, flooding and king tides has increased and gradually big changes have happened. The mangroves that I used to jump off have now been washed away, the rocks where I once collected oysters are now underwater, and I haven’t seen soldier crabs on the beach in years.
That’s why I’m involved with the Seed Indigenous Youth Climate Network, because I believe that young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can work together to create a more just and sustainable world for our people. By making my voice heard, and shining a light on these impacts we have the opportunity to address these problems now, and make sure we don’t continue to be affected first and worst by the climate crisis.

 

Our Future

Marie, Jerome and Angel, and all young people, are already experiencing the impacts of climate change. The action we take now will determine what world we inherit. Take a look at what the different temperature levels mean for our lives.

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Temperature increases by 2030

Energy & innovation impacts Marie would see:

 

To limit warming to 1.5 degrees we would need to innovate, luckily…

  • Australia is the sunniest country in the world and one of the windiest; we have enough renewable energy resources to power the country 500 times over.1
  • A community in Daylesford, Victoria owns two wind turbines which generate $30,000 annually. This money is spent on educational projects for the local school, arts projects, the local wildlife shelter, and energy projects including bioenergy and community solar.2 An economy that is set-up to keep us at 1.5 degrees of warming could have many communities like this.

Food & farming impacts Jerome would see:

 

At 1.5 degrees of warming the impacts would be bad, but farmers can benefit if we act now.

  • Significantly below average rainfalls over the last decade, which are predicted to continue across almost all of eastern Australia, has increased the risk of bushfires and the lengthening of the fire season and requiring a new ‘catastrophic’ level of warning has been added to Australia’s fire rating system.3
  • In 2015, the NSW farmers association changed their climate change policy. They want governments to move away from fossil fuels like coal and gas, towards more renewable energy sources in rural, regional and remote areas where it can benefit farming communities.4

Culture & community impacts Angel would see:

 

To limit warming to 1.5 degrees we could provide opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

  • The strategies needed to adapt to the impacts of 1.5 degrees could incorporate traditional knowledge and practices, appreciating and strengthening Indigenous cultures and communities.5
  • 1.5 degrees of warming is the upper limit for low lying Islands in the Pacific and for the islands in the Torres Strait to have a hope of surviving. “Even at the current temperatures, small low lying islands are being battered by king tides, salt water intrusion, coastal erosion, coral bleaching, ocean acidification, loss of species and habitats”6

Energy & innovation impacts Marie would see:

 

To keep warming to 2 degrees, we would have to innovate but existing damage could worsen.

  • Staying below or at 2 degrees of warming would require an expansion of the renewable energy industry. This can be done because renewable energy is now the same cost or cheaper than fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas for generating electricity.7(pg.48) 
  • Coal mining and burning coal for electricity emits toxic and carcinogenic substances into our air, water and land.8(pg.2) If we continue to rely on coal for electricity, we put the health of communities, families and individuals, particularly around mines, power stations, rail lines and ports at risk.

Food & farming impacts Jerome would see:

 

Warming to even 2 degrees makes farming really hard and food more expensive.

  • Warmer and drier climates (at 2 degrees) would challenge farmers, including beef farmers. Pasture growing seasons are expected to get shorter, combined with reduced rainfall will limit water and grazing capacity, leading to higher costs for farmers and lower quality beef production.9(pg.23)
  • 2ºC of warming is the most that we can afford if we want to protect our food supply and keep prices down, beyond that, it becomes really hard for farmers to adapt to the changes, having huge consequences for our food security.10(pg.3)

Culture & community impacts Angel would see:

 

Warming to even 2 degrees would damage the places and animals I love.

  • At a temperature rise of between 0.9°C–2.3°C, sea levels are projected to rise by an average of 0.4.m 11(pg.38) This has a huge impact on coastal areas, and landmarks like the Great Barrier Reef, which under a 2°C temperature rise no longer able to replace itself faster than coral bleaching will destroy it.12(pg.4)   
  • 2°C of warming will commit one-quarter of known species to extinction.13 These changes will drastically affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander traditional knowledge, practices, spirituality and cultural heritage.14(pg.3)

 

Energy & innovation impacts Marie would see:

 

3 degrees of warming would cost communities and our country.

  • Water inflows to key Sydney dams such as Warragamba and Shoalhaven could decrease by as much as 25%,15(pg.4) causing water bills to rise by 34%.16
  • Doubling the share of renewable energy to 36% by 2030 globally could create 900,000 extra jobs, and save up to $740 billion per year by 2030.17(pg.4) Without moving away from fossil fuels to renewable energy, Australia’s share in these savings and jobs will be limited.

Food & farming impacts Jerome would see:

 

3 degrees of warming would be dangerous for our food security and our lives.

  • Heat and drought will reduce the quality of grain, grape, vegetables, fruit, and other crops. A 20% reduction in rainfall will reduce productivity, and reduce livestock weight gain by 12%, which would substantially reduce farmers income.18(pg.6)
  • With temperature rise above 2.9°C in 2050, the frequency of ‘very high’ fire danger days will substantially increase and the amount of ‘extreme’ fire danger days would at least double.19

Culture & community impacts Angel would see:

 

At 3 degrees of warming disadvantaged communities would be worst impacted.

  • The amount of the most severe tropical cyclones will increase as the global average temperature increases. As sea levels rise, coastal flooding will increase with storm surges during cyclones.20(pg.52)
  • With 3 or more degrees of warming, the level of health and financial risk from natural disasters will increase disproportionately for people with poor quality housing and existing poor health.21(pg.4) Many of these people are likely to be low income or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Our Choice: Vote

World leaders are making decisions about our climate future at the UN summit this December. What sort of world do you want to inherit? Have your say, and we’ll deliver it to Australia's leaders on your behalf:

Temperature increases by 2030