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Stop Adani raised at COP24 in youth climate action side event

17 year old Toby Thorpe, from Hobart, a member of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC), raised the need to stop the Adani coal mine in a press conference at the United Nations Climate Conference COP14 on Thursday, as the climate conference was drawing to a conclusion.

He was one of four youth activists at this press conference speaking on the need to increase climate ambition and targets, to include climate justice in the writing and final negotiations of the Paris rulebook.

He sent a message to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten to stop Adani, to stop the politicisation of acting on climate change.

“So right now I am calling on my Prime Minister Scott Morrison, the Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, to stop politicising this issue and accept this threat to our future, and our descendants future.”

The four youth speakers brought their own moving stories on why we have a crisis and the need to act rapidly.

We have listened to the direct and impassioned speeches of Greta Thundberg in discussions with the UN Secretary General and addressing the ministers at the High Level Segment Plenary.

The stories of these four echo and enhance the voice of Greta Thundberg and thousands of young people across the world concerned for their future and future generations.

“Climate change isn’t just an environmental issue but it is a justice issue” Toby Thorpe said.

“People and places are dying right now. They are being scooped up by greedy fossil fuel corporations and they are being taken from those that need it the most.

“For almost 2 weeks now we have been hearing on the progress on the negotiations, but we all know that is not enough. The realisation that the crisis that we are in right now is not being accepted by those in power, and we, as young people, are being left out of the decision-making processes, but we are fighting back. Not just here, but across the world.

“We are seeing thousands of young people across the world calling for more climate action. School strikes in Australia, student movements in the US, and Greta Thundberg, just to name a few of the many examples.

“Here today I’d like to tell you about the Adani mine, the coal mine that has young people outraged in Australia. The coal mine that puts my future on the line. The coal mine that is thrashing native titles. The coal mine that gives us the opportunity to show that people power will win. The coal mine that is mobilising thousands to stand up for what they believe in.

“This isn’t just a coal mine though. It is the biggest proposed coal project in Australia, and the biggest of it’s kind in the southern hemisphere. It is one of the biggest Environmental issues in the country right now, and it has everyones attention, including young people.

“This mine puts future generations, first nation lands, and water on the line.

“If the Adani mine goes ahead billions of litres of water will be taken by the mega coal mine. This means less water for drinking, and wetlands, less water for our farmers who are already drought ravaged. Once these fragile water sources are gone they cannot be returned or restored.

“The impacts of this will be on my generations, my children’s generation and my great grand children’s generation. Water is life.

“Not just water is at stake. Peoples health, indigenous lands, the great barrier reef and our future are all at risk.

“But the most apalling thing about this project is my government is supporting it. So right now I am calling on our Prime Minister Scott Morrison, the Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, to stop politicising this issue and accept it as a threat to our future, and our descendants future.

“I am calling on you today all the way from COP24 in Poland, as a young Tasmanian from Australia’s southern most municipality at the complete other end of the country where this project is happening, to stop Adani’s mine and to take action on climate change.

“Action means stopping this mine. It means putting people over profit and ethics over greed. It doesn’t just mean having a robust Paris Rule book.

“If you are a young person listening to me right now anywhere across the world, I call on you to join me in this fight, this fight of our time. Join me in making the world a better place and painting a vision of future that we all want, one that is fair, just, equal, and powered by 100 percent renewable energy.

The other speakers were 18 year old Regan Williams from California, William Vovers from Kalimantan Indonesia, and Sivendra Michael from Fiji.

Regan recounted a tragic story of a friend who died in the mudslides in Santa Barbara, that came after 6 years of extreme drought, the wildfires that have become increasing intense, and then the rains that came that caused the mudslides that washed away her friend while he slept in his bed, as well as the death of his dad.

“Though many decisions about policy and politics and petty word choice are made behind closed doors, we as youth have a large amount of potential power. I say potential, because although many of us are marching, and striking and speaking, it should not be many of us, it should be all.

Because unless we use collective action as our main strategy, corporations, governments and fossil fuel industry leaders will continue to use money to buy their way out of responsibility.”

“We as youth joined other activists to stand up and say ‘Shame on you’ to the Trump Administration panel promoting coal and Fossil Fuels that took place here at the COP24 a few days ago. The demonstration was a wonderful example of the shared vision that unites every young activist. A vision that is based on inclusivity and people power, and that is hell bent on giving a voice to the most marginalised, the most vulnerable, and the most affected by injustice in all forms.”

Regan called on the UNFCCC for a more inclusive process for youth to participate in these negotiations, as well as other marginalised populations. She called attention to gender tokenism, where many panels are still made up of men, and middle aged white men at that.

She also called for the US Government to put money back into the Green Climate Fund, money promised under the Obama Administration.

“Educate yourself about what is happening behind closed doors. Enough is enough” said Regan Williams.

William Vovers from Kalimantan Indonesia, is an 18 year old Australian Indonesian that attends the Bali Green School and works as an activist associated with Green Generation. He has been asked to represent the Dayak Menya indigenous people of Borneo. He outlined the threats to these people and their traditions of protecting the forests. Increasingly these forests are under threat by logging, then palm oil plantations, and usually without the express permissions of traditional owners.

“The Central government has given away their traditional land without notification to the district heads and the people who live there. They have given their sacred lands to an Australian gold mining company and an Indonesian coal mining company.”

You can read more at: In a land untouched by mines, indigenous holdouts fight a coal invasion by Ian Morse on 28 March 2018.

“One thing we can learn from the Dayak Merang that we are still struggling with today, is that short term economic gain is not worth long term destruction. While this may seem obvious, it is a piece of advice that isn’t really followed by many of the countries and companies most responsible for the climate change crisis. Even at this COP24 we see the industries influence on the major decisions that will affect us for generations to come.”

He outlined the Dayak connection with the forests and it’s importance for sustainability.

“The Dayak understand that the forest and ancestral lands will last for millions of years and benefit not just one family but the whole community. While the Dayak are considered to be primitive because they don’t have electricity or their floors are dirt, their way of thinking in terms of sustainability and the benefit of the community is far more advanced than many leaders here at the COP.

“The Dayak do not protect the world’s second largest rainforest so that they can have greater carbon storage and sequestration. The Dayak do it because they recognise that we are part of the forest and we are a part of nature. They do not protect their forest because carbon credits are wanted to allow big industries to continue polluting. It is their way of life.

Vovers explained that coal mining and construction of coal-fired power plants is still expanding under President Joko Widodo, with funding being provided developed nations and their banks.

“The Indonesian Government under President Joko Widodo is continuing to expand coal power in Indonesia putting even more dependence on this technology that needs to become part of the past.

“New coal plants being built near Jakarta funded by Korean banks will affect the health of 30 million Indonesian people.”

“The main islands of Java, Bali and Sumatra will require more power as time goes on. We Indonesians must break this trend of coal dependency before it damages our ability to achieve our emissions targets. We cannot develop the path of already developed nations and their profiteering off fossil fuels. We also cannot allow our forests to be cut down for the production of palm oil or pulp, or to become part of a carbon credit scheme that will allow companies to continue polluting.

“We must learn from the Dayak Menya and put sustainability over the economic interests of mining and palm oil companies.We must learn from the Meratus and use our people power to stand in the way of polluters. We must learn from the Balinese and Julum who put their environment over potential jobs in the coal industry. We must end the foreign influence and resist the coal colonialism plaguing our lands. We must learn and we must change. Now more than ever.

The final speaker was Sivendra Michael from Fiji. He recounted a personal story of his family being displaced after a major tropical cyclone slammed into Fiji in February 2016, and other tragic examples impacting people of the Pacific.

“And still our neighbors, Australia, push for the largest coal mine in the Pacific, Adani. Do you really feel that downsizing the project is an option? Do you feel that it will have reduced impacts on the people of the Pacific? I don’t think so.

“Shame on you Australian Government for providing finances on educating people of the Pacific through your AusAid scholarships, on smart climate investments and climate policies and yet you are considering opening the largest coal mine in the Pacific which would daunt us.

Why do we have to march? Why do we have to make loud noises and statements so that this project can be stopped. Are our voices not being heard or are you just being negligent?

Sivendra called on youth listening to “urge leaders to fulfill commitments that have been made, to reducing carbon emissions, to meeting the 1.5 goal”.

“This is so important to us, as we will wake up one day to call no place our home.”

He urged leaders to stand in solidarity and make decisions that do not support use of fossil fuels and coal mines.

“Lastly to all the people and the youth around the world listening right now….I applaud you, I put my hats off to you, I commend you for your great work and I urge you to do not stop. Keep pushing. If you have to be like Greta, be like her, because if it takes that to change their decisions, and if it takes that for them to hear us, then we should do that.

We should fight for our future, because it is our future and our childrens future. Join us in making this world a better place.


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Reference:

Youth Call for Climate Action Now! (Video on-demand) Organiser: Australian Youth Climate Coalition