Climate Summit and Australia

Elizabeth B | September 18, 2014.

World leaders are meeting on September 23rd for the Climate Summit at the United Nations to talk climate change solutions. Heads of state and government meet all the time: so what makes this meeting different?

It’s a concerted effort to spur action on climate change, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is bringing world leaders, civil society and business leaders together outside of the formal UN climate change negotiations process. It’s not too dissimilar from his effort before the 2009 Copenhagen meeting.

2015 is when countries are due to hammer out a new global agreement on how to tackle climate change next year. Globally, existing agreements have been criticised as inadequate to meet the 2°C global warming threshold negotiated by all countries in 2009.

In Australia young people could be forgiven for being pessimistic about action on climate change.

The government has just repealed our carbon price — becoming the only country in the world to do so — in addition to winding back other environmental protection laws from those protecting Australia’s old-growth forests to policies promoting scalable renewable energy.

Australia is already observing the effects of climate change. In a report from The Climate Institute, it’s clear that climate change is already leading to an increase in fire risk across large parts of the country and heat waves. On the other side of the same coin, there’s also observed decline in snow cover. Fast-forward to 2050 and under worst case scenarios of more than 3°C of warming and Australia will lose the Great Barrier Reef, witness sea level rise of up to 0.8m and experience dangerous water shortages in rural and urban areas.

This is the time to dig deep. As young Australians we need to think outside of Australia and put pressure on Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who will not be attending the Climate Summit much to the criticism of the European Union commissioner for climate action Connie Hedegaard. We know that young people care about climate change, Australia’s UN Youth Representative Laura John’s recent consultation tour found that it was the number four issue that young people cared about.

125 other world leaders have confirmed their attendance at the Climate Summit. This is an opportunity for Australians to remember that the rest of the world is acting on climate change, and we don’t have to be left behind. As global citizens and as Australians, this is our opportunity to influence environmental decisions being made in our country.

Join the world this September 21st at the People’s Climate March. Australians, details are below:

When: 11am, Saturday 20th September 2014
Where: Rundle Park (Corner of East and North Terraces)

When: 11am, Sunday 21st September
Where: Queen’s Park

When: 10.30am, Sunday 21st September
Where: ANU University, Chifley Meadows (outside the library, near Union Court)

When: 1pm Sunday 21st September
Where: MONA, 655 Main Road, Berriedale

When: 11am, Sunday 21st September 2014
Where: Meet at State Library, march to Treasury Gardens

When: 1pm, Sunday 21st September
Where: Russell Square

When: 12pm, Sunday 21st September 2014
Where: Bicentennial Park, Glebe

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