The Federal Member for Sturt, James Stevens MP, visited the college early in Term 1 and met with members of the newly-formed Environmental Action Group who handed him the petition containing 348 signatures.
Mr Stevens’ visit prompted a passionate and broad ranging discussion on the government’s environmental policy and initiatives, and the importance of the youth voice in helping shape policies for the future.
Year 8 student Noah Bischoff, 13, said climate change was already hurting the most vulnerable and underprivileged people in society and it was up to the youth of today to make a stand.
“As future caretakers of the planet, climate change is an issue we feel most passionate about and believe must be resolved,” Noah said.
“We also know that it is important for us to engage with our Federal Members of Parliament to discuss these solutions and ensure that our local voices can be heard on a national stage.
“We believe we can play an important role as a college community in reducing our overall carbon emissions, better manage our waste and resources, and collectively reduce our footprint on the planet.”
The Environmental Action Group is driving initiatives including environmental advocacy and awareness as well as hands-on measures at the school to reduce waste and improve recycling.
The students told Mr Stevens there was a strong social justice imperative because the world’s poor and underprivileged were often the most affected by drought, sea-level rise and other impacts of rising global temperatures.
Specifically, the petition calls on the government go to the UN Climate Change Conference in 2020 with a revised emissions-reduction target of 65 per cent for 2030 (below 2005 levels) and a commitment to net zero emissions by 2050.
“We believe this is in line with the science and will involve reforming the four areas of our economy that contribute most to our carbon emissions: electricity, industry, agriculture and transport,” Noah added.
Mr Stevens said the government was responding to climate change on many levels including supporting new technologies and research that would help dramatically reduce carbon emissions associated with electricity-generation, transport and industry.
“I’m a politician who believes that climate change is occurring, who believes that humankind is contributing to that and that we have a responsibility to address it,” he told the Rostrevor students.
“I believe that we have to get towards net zero carbon emissions and I’m hopeful that there will be a very positive outcome at the Glasgow (climate change) conference at the end of the year.
“We, as a country, have our responsibility to do everything we need to, but, probably even more importantly, we have to put pressure on some of these big countries like the United States, China, India who are major emitters.”
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