Youth demand action on climate change

February 16, 2007

The Australian Youth Climate Coalition was launched around the country on February 16, World Kyoto Day. In Sydney, activists gathered at the Bondi office of federal environment minister Malcolm Turnbull to deliver the AYCC's declaration.

Anna Rose, an organiser for the Bondi action, told Green Left Weekly, "It was great to see so many young people across Australia get involved in the launch of the AYCC ... It is now up to the coalition to use that enthusiasm to build an effective, creative and strategic generation-wide movement to stop climate change."

The AYCC was formed in November in Melbourne at a summit involving representatives from more than 30 youth organisations. Below is an excerpt from the declaration drafted by the meeting.

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The Youth Climate Coalition is demanding immediate and meaningful action on climate change by government and the private sector. We have a right, along with all species, to a sustainable future and a liveable planet. This right carries on to our children and grandchildren.

Climate change impacts on our cultural heritage, including that of the oldest continuous culture on earth. Weather unpredictability, drought, increasing salinity, coral bleaching, sea level rise, habitat destruction and biodiversity loss threaten our country's future — and with it, our own.

The unprecedented pace and intensity of climate change
becomes more pronounced every year. We recognise that
the current extent of climate change is human induced.
We no longer have the luxury of continued debate; the
time for action is now.

We see climate change as a threat but also an opportunity to build a more ecologically and socially responsible society.

Climate change poses a disproportionate impact on our
Pacific neighbours, less developed nations and marginalised
peoples worldwide. Australia has an obligation to assist these vulnerable communities.

We acknowledge Indigenous Australians as the continuing custodians of this land and their unique position and valuable knowledge in caring for their country. Climate change threatens Indigenous land and Indigenous peoples' ability to maintain culture. Any climate change debate must include Indigenous perspectives so that land management and environmental practice is respectful of Indigenous culture, heritage and sacred sites.

Economic sustainability and livelihoods depend on our
natural environment. The cost of goods and services should reflect their true environmental and social cost, and government subsidies should be directed towards renewable energy rather than fossil fuels.

The solutions to climate change already exist in Australia.
We do not need nuclear power: it is too unsafe, too dirty,
and too expensive. Similarly, we believe the idea of "clean
coal" is a distraction postponing a just transition from fossil fuels to a real clean energy future.

We commit to raising awareness of the impacts of current agricultural industrial and economic practices and educating, motivating and mobilising young people to address the climate crisis.

We demand that: the Australian government ratify the Kyoto Protocol and take a leadership role in its upcoming second phase; fund and assist developing countries to mitigate against the effects of climate change and ensure equitable access to sustainable energy resources; recognise climate refugees and accept them to our country; set world-leading domestic mandatory renewable energy targets; ensure a just transition to renewable energy including through directing subsidies away from fossil fuels; and focus research and money on renewable energy sources not fossil fuels or nuclear.

There should be no further nuclear expansion. The government should improve public transport, building and urban design, phase out land clearing, recognise the value of forests as carbon sinks, create incentives for localised sustainable farming including community gardens, incorporate compulsory ecological sustainability and climate change education into school curricula; and increase funding and support for community-based programs to combat climate change.

[Abridged from the Youth Climate Coalition manifesto. For more information visit <www.youthclimatecoalition.org>.]

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