An Open Letter from the Youth of Aotearoa

Published: Mon 4 Mar 2019 09:30 AM
To our parents, our teachers, and our business and elected leaders.
We are your children. Your grandchildren. Your future leaders. We have an urgent message and we need your help.
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.
Soon we will inherit the consequences of this inaction, and we are scared. Will we have a planet worth passing on to our children? Will we face global conflicts because of resource scarcity? What will we do if the ecosystems we depend on completely collapse? Where will all the people who lose their homes go? These are the questions looming over our generation.
We have a vision for a safe climate future. One 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. We envision a world where we don’t just think about sustainability, but the regeneration of the natural world, so that each generation actively works towards a more beautiful world for the next.
We have a right to this future and we are committed to standing up for it. We are striking from school on March 15 to send a strong, united message to the New Zealand government that the youth of Aotearoa New Zealand demand urgent action. In our own lives, we are doing our best to minimize our carbon footprint but the scale of the problem is escalating and the most effective action has to come from government and big businesses.
We ask you to stand with us. Everyone has a part to play.
To our parents and teachers,
Think about the things you want for your children or the young people that you love; happiness, stability, freedom, peace, security, health. Climate breakdown puts all of these things at risk. Beyond reducing, reusing and recycling, we ask you to refuse to take part in systems that pose a threat to our future. Catch the train or bus to work more often, bike when you can, and most importantly, stand with us in this fight for our future. Listen to us, our hopes and dreams for the world, and help us to make them a reality. Your decisions every day, and your vote every three years, count. Empower your children to fight for their future, and stand in solidarity with them as they strike on March 15th.
To our business leaders,
Current business practices are threatening our homes, our families and our communities. We will not stand by while greed for a quick profit undermines our future security. If you want to continue to have the social license to operate, you need to be a part of the solution. We are the future of the economy, and we will not tolerate inaction on climate change. We ask you, our business leaders, to divest your businesses from fossil fuels, and to commit to using your ingenuity and leadership to building the economy of the future; one which doesn’t cost us, and future generations, but safeguards our continued existence on earth.
To our elected leaders,
We demand that you put protecting our future at the forefront of your response to climate change. This means:
• Reaching carbon neutrality by 2050, or sooner.
• Limiting warming to 1.5.
• Passing an ambitious and effective Zero Carbon Act that creates a coherent, long term plan to reduce emissions domestically.
• Ensuring our paths to reaching our emissions targets are fast tracked, well planned and transparent so that communities are supported through this change.
• Putting in place mechanisms that will allow us to hold future governments to account.
• Local Governments signing on to the Local Government Leaders’ Climate Change Declaration and preparing for climate change adaptation and building resilience now.
• Ensuring that all plans for climate change mitigation and adaptation are socially and intergenerationally just and honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
The government has said that this is the year of action. If so, we demand an explanation of what those actions will be and why they will be effective. We need your bold leadership now.
We, the youth, have started to move. Together, we are going to change the fate of humanity, regardless of the resistance we encounter. United we will rise on the 15th of March. We will continue to do so until we see climate justice. Please work with us, in partnership, for a world that you can be proud to pass on.
So, will you join us?
From young people in Wellington, Auckland, Dunedin, Nelson, Kāpiti, Taranaki, Christchurch, Waihi, Russell, Northland, Hamilton, Palmerston North, New Plymouth, Invercargill, Ashburton, Whanganui, Mount Maunganui, Gisborne, Queenstown, Coromandel, Lower Hutt, Raglan and more every day.
We invite you to add your name in support of our message, please find the link to our online petition on our Facebook Page: SchoolStrike4ClimateNZ.

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