Australian Youth Climate Change Coalition launched


The founding conference of the Australian Youth Climate Change Coalition (AYCCC) was held in Melbourne on November 20-22. The meeting involved representatives from 30 organisations, including the Australian Student Environmental Network, United Nations Youth Association, Oz Green, GetUp!, the Oaktree Foundation, the Greens and Resistance. There were also representatives from government youth councils, high school activist groups and university student councils, as well as university-based environmental and social justice groups.

The main goal of the summit was to draft and adopt a youth declaration on climate change that would form the platform for the AYCCC. Another goal was to adopt a series of projects that the coalition could work on as well as coming to an agreement on the coalition's structure.

By the end of the conference, a number of "flagship" projects were adopted, including a national day of action, another youth conference in 2007 and a concert.

A structure was also adopted, which included a nine-person "interim" steering committee with an executive officer who would be paid, an organisation-only membership policy with a "supporters" category for individual young people who are not members of any organisation.

An alternative proposal was raised by Resistance. This called for a more democratic and participatory model that would allow for new local chapters of the AYCCC to be set up and for individuals to be allowed to become members with voting rights.

Another issue that came up was the question of how the group would sustain itself financially. Questions were raised about the ethics of allowing the Insurance Australia Group to fund the conference.

Unfortunately the main goal of the conference — to adopt a youth declaration on climate change — was not achieved. Over the meeting's three days, all groups were able to have input into the content of the declaration.

By the final day many groups, including Resistance, felt satisfied that it took a strong position against nuclear power and so called "clean coal" and geosequestation and called on the government to acept climate refugees and invest in renewable energy.

However, in the final half an hour of the conference, participants were informed that some groups would not sign onto it if it was adopted. A vote on the declaration was evenly split between those who wanted the declaration as it stood and those who wanted it to be watered down. The conference organisers proposed that the declaration be left to the interim steering committee to redraft and for the issue to be revisited in three months' time.