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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 11 November 2021) . . Page.. 3396 ..

As the ACT Greens spokesperson for young people, I am politically and personally invested in mitigating the worst of the impending climate crisis. The participation of young people in democratic and political systems is essential to ensuring that they are part of the systems that make decisions that will impact them for generations.

Earlier this year, I brought forward a motion to this place to support the rights of the aforementioned young people to strike. Young people’s activism and enthusiasm for action on the climate crisis has been driving action on climate change for decades. We have seen young people driving conversations and protests at COP this year, as they have in previous years. We know that these young activists have been nobly sceptical about the intentions and, importantly, the vested financial interests that have been displayed at COP, including, but not limited to, Australia’s own stand, sponsored by Santos.

In an article by the Guardian published yesterday, one of these young activists, Villasenor, put it articulately:

The UN has shown us it’s capable of mobilising against imminent global threats, and the climate crisis is the greatest global threat ever known to humanity …We are quickly running out of time to protect children and future generations, and we’re demanding adults step up right now and rally a critical global response to the climate crisis.

In the wake of COVID-19 and the horrific bushfires we have experienced, millions of people are demanding better. We cannot continue to allow this community voice to be drowned out by the corporate lobby groups and the billionaires who use their wealth and power to set the political agenda in this country and across the globe.

Lifting the voices of young people is one way we can fight back against those with such significant vested interests who are continuing to destroy our planet for their own profit—wealthy significant vested interests who continue to prop up the two old parties with big donations. I look forward to continuing to be a strong advocate in this area.

I am a passionate believer in social justice. Climate change is the biggest threat to the safety, security and wellbeing of marginalised people around the world. As the Greens spokesperson for health and education, I am proud that climate action and environmental sustainability are woven throughout our policies and all our approaches to public services. Our policy of implementing a health-based response to climate change is something I look forward to advocating more for, in this place.

Over the next few decades, climate change will emerge as the biggest threat to our health and our public health systems. It impacts health in a variety of ways, such as exposing people to increased temperatures, heatwaves and smoke from bushfires, and increasing the spread of disease. It is important that the ACT has a strategic health-based response to climate change, as well as a plan for the health sector to reduce its own contribution to climate change and reach net zero emissions.

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