There has been a lot of negativity from politicians about school children taking time off school to protest inaction on the climate change. Here are five reasons why The Opportunities Party is 100% behind it.
1. It is their future
The school children of today are the adults of tomorrow. They will be the ones that have to deal with the consequences of our actions (or inaction) today. They should rightly be concerned about the world we are leaving them. According to the World Economic Forum all the biggest risks the world is facing are directly linked to climate change.
2. They have no other voice
What other way do young people have of voicing their concerns? They have no vote, no other way of having their voice heard.
Many young people I know are immensely distressed with the problems that the world is facing. What point is there of studying and working hard when the world as we know it may end?
If there was ever a good reason to lower the voting age, climate change would be it.
3. We aren't actually doing anything about it yet
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern claimed that there is less concern for protest here.
Sure, this Government has a plan to make a plan. That is better than the last National Government did - they only really started planning in their last term when Paula Bennett took over as Minister.
The trouble is that we haven't really done anything yet. And even getting a plan to make a plan has been painfully slow going.
The international Climate Action Tracker still rates New Zealand's actions as insufficient. We have nothing to be smug about, successive governments have done no more than fiddle at the edges.
4. We haven't even started talking about how to adapt
Aside from action to reduce our emissions, we have another massive challenge we haven't even started facing yet.
Regardless of emissions reductions taken here, our climate will continue to change. By how much depends on how quickly the rest of the world acts. Let's be frank - right now restricting warming to even 2 degrees looks unlikely.
We need to start planning for a changing climate. We need to be more self sufficient for energy. We need to reforest erosion prone land to protect it from extreme storms. We need to plan for rising sea levels. We need to work out what we will do when boats or planes of refugees appear on our shores. We need to start doing all that now, rather than leaving all these issues for younger generations to deal with.
5. They will learn something...
The concern from many politicians is that these students won't learn anything from a day off school.
I disagree. They will learn plenty about how democracy works: if you don't stand up and make your voice heard, you don't get anywhere. During my time in South America last year their culture of activism was evident. I even witnessed one school block off the roads for an hour to protest climate change on World Environment Day. I bet those students will remember that experience.
If nothing else, after this action the students involved will certainly value their vote when they get it. That alone has to make it worthwhile.
Let's stop treating them like kids. When it comes to future issues like climate change it wouldn't surprise me if many of them know more than the politicians.
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