ARE YOUNG PEOPLE LOOKING AT CLIMATE CHANGE THE WRONG WAY

In the news by Holly Royce

I worry that many in my generation of young people are looking at climate change the wrong way – too short term, not seeing the full picture, sometimes overawed by the immensity of the climate issue. I can say this from a place of love and understanding because I am a young person and for a long time I shared the view that climate change was such a large and intimidating issue that it rendered me powerless.

This week data has been released from the Australia Institute finding that jobs, housing and university funding are the biggest issues influencing and affecting the vote of young people aged 18-25. The issue of climate change is currently sitting at number 5, and many of this cohort of young people will be voting in a national election for the first time on September 7th. Click here to read the survey for yourself.

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Though a lot of young voters were quoted as saying a political party’s stance on climate change mitigation played a large part in their voting decision, it’s obviously not enough.
The quintessential thoughts of what seems like a large number of young people are reflected in these quotes from the Sydney Morning Herald and explain why climate change action was sitting lower on their priority list.
“Things like gay marriage and climate change are secondary; I wouldn’t change my vote over either though I know they are important,” says Anthony Osborne, 22, from Rowville.

Another had this to say –

“We hear a lot about climate change and immigration policy. Absolutely they are front and centre and very important issues. [But] if you’re struggling with housing … then it’s quite difficult to engage with those bigger picture issues.”
As a young person fitting into the tail end of this particular age bracket, I disagree with these statements for two simple reasons.

Firstly – the scientific facts don’t lie. Dangerous climate change means less food sources (including wine and coffee), the extinction of ocean life as we know it, and extreme, deadly weather becoming the norm. When these factors are considered climate change surely becomes a bigger issue. We need to see past the immediate and think about the world we are leaving for our future generations.
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Secondly – these statements (and many very similar statements made by people of all ages) imply that to act on dangerous climate change is to deprioritise another issue. Every single one of these issues that concern young people can very easily incorporate climate action – as the 1 Million Women movement consistently shows, we can act on climate change through how we live day to day. It all boils down to simple behaviour change and sustainable living.

Not only is living sustainably better for the planet, it will also save you money – meaning more money for things like rent and health care, and less paying for fossil fuel energy and food waste and other daily causes of greenhouse gas pollution.

Did you know?

You can save $250 a year or more by reducing fuel consumption and reducing private car use. Reducing your fuel purchases by about 180L a year @ $1.40 per litre will save you about $250 on average. Approximately 8% of Australia’s carbon dioxide emissions are from cars and light commercial vehicles. This is easy everyday climate action, sustainable living leaving money in your pocket – Click here for more information.

If that’s not enough, what about this one?

Cutting your home electricity use by 10% will save about $150+ per annum at the same time you would be reducing CO2 pollution linked to your home energy use by approx.. 700kg per annum – Click here for more information.

It’s simple behaviour change. Choosing to make the extra effort to take public transport, to buy less and to turn off appliances at the power point when they are not being used can make a huge difference, with nothing being taken away. It might even help with the burden of accommodation costs.

Making an effort to live sustainably every day soon becomes a monthly behaviour set, then a yearly one, with constant rewards. Whatever your age, it is important to see that every individual can help in the fight against dangerous climate change and that we don’t view it as an unapproachable issue.

With an Australian election on in a few weeks’ time, on Saturday September 7th, what does the climate change challenge mean for you? Will it affect your vote? Will it change how you live day-to-day?

 

Don’t forget to head over to our website! We are daughters, mothers, sisters and grandmothers getting on with practical climate action to live better for us and the planet. Join the movement at www.1millionwomen.com.au

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