I opened my news reader today to two headlines: “When storms hit, low income areas are hit first,” and, “Council resists pleas to sign climate change declaration”. These headlines capture exactly why Generation Zero can play an important role in Aotearoa New Zealand and our University. Climate change is an issue of justice. Powers and institutions must be held accountable for their role in this. But first, people must understand how and why they must act on climate change.
Like the council above, many powers and institutions are unwilling to commit to “ambitious plans” to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions because of the unknown cost. They think in monetary terms; the cost is borne on their wallets. Yet for many people, the cost of others’ inaction on climate change is far, far greater. The poor, the marginalised and people from low-lying Pacific islands will be hit first and hardest once the full effects of climate change take hold. This cost is borne on their livelihoods, homelands and wellbeing, as well as their wallets.
Generation Zero see a role for young people in this space. We are the generation who have the power to hold others accountable for creating an emissions-neutral future. Young people have the power to advocate for policy which promotes low-emissions transport, more liveable cities and independence from fossil fuels. Young people have the power to lobby government officials, businesses and industries enact more ambitious climate change regulations. Young people have the power to speak to their mates about the cost of ignorance.
Young people proclaim that there are reasons to hope. Psychology has shown (and yes, I am a psychology geek) that reading about solutions to mitigate/ adapt to climate change creates a sense of hope. Hope is vital. Hope is the predecessor to our sense of efficacy which leads to action. On the flip side, the doom-and-gloom climate change tales are at the root of apathy. Did you feel hopeful reading the headlines in the first paragraph? Unlikely, for negative news tends to cause people to fear, and fear causes people to disengage, to ignore or even to deny climate change.
As a club at the University of Auckland we see a role for ourselves in bringing hope for climate solutions. We have three goals – three hopes. We hope to see greater awareness of climate change sustainability across all faculties. We hope to see our University support the upcoming Zero Carbon Bill. We hope to see our University become a leader on climate-ready regulations. Yes, we hope for a safer and more just future for our fellow students.
The United Nations recognise the global imperative to “Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts (SDG 13). During Be the Change week we want to show other students that while there is much to do on climate change, there is much bold action already underway and they can join in. Come along!
What: Climate Change – Reasons to Hope
When: 12th April, 4-5 p.m, HSB 2
Who: Speakers from Auckland Council, Generation Zero Zero Carbon Act team, Pacific Climate Warriors and School Strikers 4 Climate