Prue Hyman Says ‘Support the Student Strikers’

Prue Hyman says ‘teenagers are braver than politicians —  let’s support the youth strike on Friday,  March 15.’

In her latest column, Prue says the  strike is to persuade the politicians to be much braver in taking action to combat climate change.

Prue Hyman

Open Letter with a powerful message

“he Open Letter from the Youth of Aotearoa to parents, teachers, and business and elected leaders has a powerful analysis, vision and appeal for real change.

They point out that “for over 50 years we have known that climate breakdown poses an existential threat to life on Earth.

We have known that we cannot afford to keep burning fossil fuels, and depleting our oceans, rivers, forests and land. And yet we have continued to do just that.” They wonder what sort of planet will be left for their own children and whether scarcity of resources will lead to more conflict.

The vision for the future

Their vision is for a safe climate future, with plentiful native forests, clean rivers and thriving ecosystems that allow life to flourish. One where people live in harmony with nature and understand that our wellbeing is inextricably linked to its wellbeing.

Their strike will send a strong message to the New Zealand government demanding urgent action.

They recognize that however much we try individually to minimise our carbon footprint, it is government and business, in Aotearoa and worldwide, that have to take strong actions and get real in policy terms to achieve genuine change.

Sure, we can fly less and pay to offset our miles, and we can (if we can afford it) change to electric cars, or better still, use public transport, and the rest, but insisting that governments change direction is more important.

Where is the zero carbon legislation? Delayed by infighting. The excellent youth letter insists on: Reaching carbon neutrality by 2050, or sooner, limiting warming to 1.5, and passing an ambitious and effective Zero Carbon Act that creates a coherent, long term plan to reduce emissions domestically.

It goes on to require mechanisms so that communities and local government are assisted to make real change.

And it requires the plans for climate change mitigation and adaptation to be socially and intergenerationally just and to honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

They demand strong leadership form government and massive changes to business. With greed for a quick profit undermining our future security, business needs to be part of the solution. They must divest from fossil fuels, and build an economy which safeguards our continued existence on earth.

Demanding that parents, teachers, government and business listen to young people and their hopes and dreams for the world, they insist on empowerment and real change. It’s a powerful message.

TV One’s Q. and A. had an interesting discussion on the strike with the random person in the street illustrating the range of opinion, Of three parents, one was against the strike (a man!), one in favour (a woman!), and one in favour but with the belief that it won’t make any difference.

That’s my own worry. We have had so many marches and movements (remember the Occupy movement?) that peter out with little or nothing accomplished. Much more of a worry than the stuffy nonsense about kids missing a day’s schooling when most don’t know or care about the issues.

Shaw in favour, but wants growth too

Minister for Climate Change and Greens co-leader James Shaw was very strongly in support of the strike. He also pointed out that despite appalling federal policies in the US,

James Shaw

California and other states (60% of US GDP) were taking strong actions on reducing emissions.

But predictably he argued that green growth would increase GDP, when real sustainability requires us to stop the growth imperative and ensure a more equal distribution of what we currently produce.

The Q. and A. panel raised the issue of politicians being too electorally fearful to provide real leadership, instead invoking the shibboleths about bringing the population with you (or doing very little!) That sadly is our reality.

So let’s support the strike.

And then let’s do more and be prepared to sacrifice a little to make their vision real. And let’s really push the politicians.

As the young people say, they have the right to inherit a liveable planet from our parents and grandparents.”

We should be proud that today’s young people are sufficiently informed and concerned to contemplate this action. Good on them

Spot on, Prue. And good on Sophie Handford who’s leading this movement. A credit to her family and her education at Kapiti College.

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