Youth Embassy for intergenerational climate justice
In response to the chaotic public debate over how much a price on carbon will cost us, young people converged on Canberra in the week leading up to July 1.
Their aim was to bring the focus back to the real cost of inaction on climate change — their futures.
They set up a “Youth Embassy” on Capital Hill for four days, standing up for intergenerational justice in view of climate change. The event was organised by the multi-faith Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC).
The Embassy drew attention back to the imperative to act now for the sake of our grandchildren and future generations. Young people from a range of religious faiths and of none spoke up.
Seventeen-year-old Parrys Raines, aka “Climate Girl”, sees the Price on Pollution as a step in the right direction. She attends Our Lady Star of the Sea in Wollongong. “I keep hearing about the cost of action. The cost of not doing enough will be too high.
“Adults today are making choices that will ultimately decide our future. Please don’t hand me and my generation a planet in worse condition than what you inherited.”
Devastating climate change is not some future possibility for Casey Bawden, an 18-year-old Christian. After a trip to Kenya she has seen how livelihoods have been lost, and believes high consumption carbon-intensive lifestyles in rich countries are a major cause. “My lifestyle could be causing others to suffer in future. My vision for the future is a world where my lifestyle does not contribute to the suffering of others.”
The call to take responsibility for the impact of our actions is one that is also supported by leaders in various faith traditions.
“There are those who claim the costs are too high, given that there will be ‘no environmental benefit’ to a Price on Pollution,” said ARRCC spokesperson Bishop Pat Power of Canberra Catholic Diocese.
“They are not saying that implementing the legislation won’t reduce our emissions, but just that the reduction isn’t worth much in global terms. This is not a sound moral position. As a society need to be able to look our own grandchildren in the eye one day as Australians and say that we did what we could.”
ARRCC believes that, for religious people, the argument that implementing the legislation could cost us something should be the least persuasive of all.
By far the more important question is: what quality of life could our children and grandchildren have in thirty years’ time if we don’t act now? What further injustices will people in developing countries face? It’s worth us making some changes now to help avert the possibility of runaway climate change.
This includes lifestyle changes for individuals and structural changes as a society.