Young people, with their stake in the future, are tackling the biggest challenge of our time. They are taking on the role of leading agents of change in showing the way to tackle the climate crisis.
Our youth are creating ways to raise awareness, share information, build capacities and work together to bridge the growing gap between rhetoric and action. They are "Shifting the Power" from the tired old debates.
Starting in Nelson this Saturday from 10.30am to 3.30pm, young Nelsonians will be Shifting the Power with a youth climate change event at the Nelson Environment Centre. With speakers, workshops, music, a tour, and a free barbecue lunch cooked with biogas, the day will be part festival, part feast and part planning for local and national action on climate change by young people.
Donated tickets can also be won at Power Shift Nelson to attend Power Shift NZ-Pacific in Auckland, a three-day Youth Climate Summit on December 7-9 created by and for up to 1000 young people from all over New Zealand and the Pacific.
Power Shift NZ-Pacific will launch a 2013 national youth campaign to push for climate solutions and ignite actions to shape a safe climate future. Brittany Packer, an environmental activist from Nelson, is heading the campaign with partners 350 Aotearoa and Generation Zero, and will also lead the Nelson event.
Government obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto Protocol expire at the end of 2012. However, there is no sign of an international accord being signed any time soon. So young people are actively initiating responses to climate change, underlining the urgency of taking control of their future, and acting now.
"Power Shift is building a movement to create climate solutions and has organised events all over the world over the past five years in India, Australia, America, Canada and the UK, mobilising more than 25,000 young people," says Brittany.
The movement bases its sense of urgency on the conclusion of an overwhelming majority of climate scientists that we need to keep carbon dioxide emissions below 350 parts per million if we want to keep the world as we know it.
"From a New Zealand youth perspective, our Pacific neighbours are already seeing the more severe impacts of severe climate events and need our support and solidarity," Brittany adds.
"Here in New Zealand, we have a rich history of movements for social change and justice. Whether it be political equality for women, the fight for justice on land grievances, or standing up against the powers of the world in demanding a nuclear-free New Zealand, we've shown that we have the guts to speak out for what is right. We can do the same for climate change."
Brittany believes that there is great urgency for young people across New Zealand and the Pacific Islands to get educated about climate change, and to be supported to lead positive, local actions for a safe climate future.
Power Shift NZ-Pacific aims to create the same excitement and action seen happening right now in the youth climate movement across the globe.
"Power Shift is led by young people, for young people," she says. "It's our time. Come and join us! No matter what your level of experience is with climate change and campaigning, we want you to be involved."