31 October, 2015 - 91 percent of young Australians condemn Federal Government on climate: report

More than nine out of 10 young people in Australia believe the Federal Government is not doing enough to address climate change, according to a new report released today by child rights organisation Plan International Australia.

We Stand as One: Children, young people and climate change, was based on consultations with 435 Australians aged 13 to 25 – consultations conducted by young people themselves. The report is being released a month before global leaders meet in Paris to begin the world’s most crucial set of negotiations on climate change since Kyoto nearly 20 years ago.

The consultations found 91 per cent of young Australians believe their government is not doing enough to tackle climate change, while 90 per cent agreed that it is an important issue to them. The report also reveals that young Australians are particularly concerned about the impact climate change is having on people their age in the developing world.

“Through conversations with hundreds of young Australians, we learnt a great deal about what concerns them. Number one is climate change. People my age are deeply concerned that the actions of wealthy countries like Australia are hurting the world’s poorest – who are paying the highest price for climate change,” says 21-year-old Imogen Morrissey, one of the report authors and a Plan International Youth Ambassador.

“We also consulted with children in The Philippines, Vietnam and Nepal. They are already experiencing the catastrophic consequences of climate change – including drought, intense heat, rising sea levels and increasingly frequent typhoons.  They want rich and big-polluting nations like Australia to do what is necessary to stop climate change,” Morrissey says.   

“Australians have profited from polluting industries, and yet we leave our poorer neighbours to pay for it with these terrible consequences – and these consequences are actually killing young people. Last decade, an estimated more than 150,000 people died every year as a result of climate change – and almost 90 per cent of those were children in developing nations,” she says.
“Climate change is robbing children of their future by driving an increase in natural disasters, drought, water shortage, illness, forced migrations and conflict. That is why young people in Australia want to see our leaders step up and do more – much more – about climate change.”

The report calls on the Federal Government to act by:

  • Reducing domestic emissions by at least 40 per cent below 2000 levels by 2025; 60 per cent by 2030 and progress towards zero net emissions by 2050.
  • Increasing investment in renewable energy in Australia, and fund access to affordable renewable energy across the developing world.
  • Placing a greater emphasis on Australia’s contribution to climate change in the national curriculum, including its impacts on the poorest countries, and conducting national consultations on what young people want from the government.
  • Contributing and additional $400 million in 2016/17 to developing nations coping with climate change, including through the Green Climate Fund.

Says Plan International Australia CEO Ian Wishart: “This report gives a voice to young people, and they are sending a clear message to our leaders: you need to face up to climate change and do something meaningful to tackle it.”

“That’s a message our leaders would do well to heed as they attend the Paris summit in a month’s time. The last time there was an international meeting on climate change of this kind of crucial importance was in Copenhagen in 2009. We let the world off the hook that time. We cannot afford to let the world off the hook again.”

The report will be used by young people to lobby the Australian Government to rethink its position on climate change.

Click here to download a copy of the report and related photos, etc: bit.ly/planccreport.

Editors’ notes:
Plan is one of the oldest and largest children's development organisations in the world, founded 77 years ago, working in 51 developing countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas and supported by 21 donor countries. Plan is independent, with no religious, political or governmental affiliations.