The future used to be full of possibilities for young people. Now it scares us. Will we still have enjoyable summers? The wonders of the Great Barrier Reef and Amazon rainforest? Or will we suffer unbearable heat waves, famines and disasters?
Right now, we face a climate crisis and our future could go either way. But the people in power aren’t acting like there’s a crisis. That’s why young people around the world are mobilising on mass to take matters into their own hands. Why girls like Greta have stepped up to lead the climate movement. We’re advocating for the future because ‘those in charge’ have left it up to us.
It is young people like us who have led the climate strikes. Climate change is an imminent threat to our future, and already a reality for young people around the world. Now we are asking adults to join us – this Friday, we will be rallying with workers in cities around Australia, and across the world.
This is why you need to be there with us.
Because the world is hurtling towards a future of catastrophic climate change. By 2030, the World Bank predicts extreme weather events and the devastating impacts on agriculture, health and labour, are predicted to push 100 million people back into poverty.
While such a future may be a scary prospect for us here, living in a rich nation, it is absolutely terrifying for those in the most vulnerable, poorest communities around the world.
Climate change is not fair. It has disproportionate impacts on those of us who are especially vulnerable: children and particularly girls.
The world may be more aware of gender inequality after #MeToo, but few people realise that climate change is and will continue to make it worse. The inequality and discrimination experienced by girls around the world is magnified by climate change..
Girls are especially vulnerable. They are more likely to go hungry and are more likely to experience violence, sexual assault, child marriage and trafficking when climate-related disasters strike their communities. It’s even worse when you add other factors into the equation like poverty, ethnicity, disabilities and discrimination.
What’s more, girls and women are systematically excluded from climate change discussions and decision making around the world. In 2015, an IUCN report found women made up just 12% of the heads of 881 national environmental sector ministries.
Climate change is here. Families around the world are already feeling its impacts. In 2017, 61.5% of all people displaced were driven from their homes by climate-related disasters.
The following year, climate stresses pushed 29 million people into acute food insecurity; the vast majority live in Africa.
It’s time for decision makers to heed the warning of young people. We are relying on you for our futures – for the future of our world. Those of us under 18 don’t even have the chance to vote.
And girls need to be included. While it’s wonderfully inspiring to see girl activists like Greta and others making those in power pay attention, what we really need is girls included in climate change decision making and policy processes.
Why don’t we see more girl youth advisors in politics? We are a generation of creative, resilient and intelligent people, born in an era of rapid change. We have fresh perspectives, understanding and solutions to offer. For far too long, we’ve been shut out of the conversation.
Climate change may impact people differently, but we all live on this earth together. It is our collective home. We need to look after it, and each other.
For all the young activists out there. Keep doing your part. We are with you, we can hear you, and together we will rise.