The City of Newcastle Declares Climate Emergency: What Now?
What is climate change? How will it affect Newcastle? How can YOU help to change the Earth’s fate? Hollie Hughes has the answer.
8, 12, 16…
School students. Not yet old enough to vote, but acutely aware of the desperate situation they face and determined to have their voices heard.
If you happened to be passing through the heart of the city of Newcastle on the first Friday of May, this is exactly the scene which demanded community attention.
This peaceful demonstration – a youth, eco-activist initiative termed the ‘School Strike for Climate’ is but one of the federal campaigns underpinned by individuals demanding government action against climate change.
So, what exactly is climate change and why do Newcastle residents care so much?
By definition, climate change is the alteration in global or regional climate patterns, specifically change apparent from the mid 20th century onwards, attributed largely to increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels.
Such rapid environmental change threatens all human beings along with the flora and fauna on planet Earth. Along with rising temperatures, decreased air quality and clean water availability, there will be a variety of extreme weather conditions.
Although the natural loss which comes from climate change can be difficult to measure, economic impacts are easily calculated, with the results of climate change estimated to have cost the federal government over 350-billion-dollars in the past 10 years. If no direct action is taken now, this expenditure is expected to rise.
As a coastal city packed with popular sandy dunes, pristine waves, and extraordinary marine and land wildlife, it isn’t hard to see why Newcastle residents are mobilising on this issue.
Over the past few months, Newcastle environmental groups The Wilderness Society, Protect Our Coast Alliance and Earth Guardians Newcastle have all hosted events protesting against government inaction towards climate change.
Such events include the peaceful protest held outside Newcastle City Hall on May 28th when hundreds of Newcastle residents gathered to demand that councillors declare the existence of a ‘Climate Emergency’.
Months of mounting community pressure came to a head when the council made the declaration following alike declarations from a plethora of cities around the globe.
A representative from Earth Guardians Newcastle outlines that many within the community view this declaration as a step in the right direction, despite a disappointing federal election result last month.
“Although there is so much more to be done, the fact that the council has listened to those concerned about our planet and declared a climate emergency is a significant step forward for Newcastle and the fight for climate action.”
Although climate change impacts us all, as individuals alone, it can be hard to work out where to start in order to do your part in the fight. Charlotte McCabe from The Wilderness Society says that “everyone who cares about climate change needs to decarbonise their own lives”.
“This can be done by buying green power, driving and flying less.
“Additionally, everyone interested should join a community group that works on climate issues, as although we can feel isolated and powerless when we are alone, it is amazing what we can achieve when we find like-minded people.
“Meet with your decision makers, write letters and submissions, and most importantly, have conversations and build connections with people in your community about why you care. Conversations are our most powerful tool and you don’t have to be a climate scientist; you just need to express your concern and your hope for the future.”
The chanting begins to grow louder as the pile of school uniforms descend upon the road further toward the city centre.
8, 12, 16….
Many of these students will be of voting age in three years- won’t that be a game changer.