For many of us, climate change feels totally out of our control. How can one person single-handedly stop the use of fossil fuels or end deforestation?
But in the past when people have come together, big shit did get stopped. Politics, from voting to activism, has the power to make your voice heard. Consider this your Dummy’s Guide To Getting Politically Involved In Climate Action.
Write to your MP (and vote!)
Pollies are supposed to make decisions on our behalf, but sometimes that doesn’t feel like the case. By making your voice known, you have the ability to guide policy in Canberra.
The Open Australia Foundation has a handy tool to find out who your local MP is. Just pop in your postcode and you can see who is representing you in parliament, and what their track record is like on environmental issues.
If they are sloppy on climate change, write to them and let them know that this is unacceptable. If they realise their constituents do not support their policies, they may have a change of heart when it comes to fucking up the environment.
After writing to your MP, be sure to follow up by actually voting. It’s every adult’s responsibility and you get to enjoy a sausage sizzle on the day!
For many areas, voting against the sitting MP might feel like a lost cause. It’s easy to feel as if the parties are the same sometimes, or that your individual vote won’t make a difference. But Aussies have already demonstrated how we can band together to support climate action and kick the dinosaurs out of parliament.
Back in 2014, Tony Abbott famously said that “coal was good for humanity.” Sydneysiders felt trapped by his obnoxious ignorance – not only was he the prime minister at the time, but his seat had been held by the Liberals since it was created in the 1920s!
But Tones’ constituents got fed up and launched a grassroots campaign for former Olympian Zali Steggall. At last year’s election, she ran as an independent candidate, meaning she was not a Liberal, Labor or Greens member. Climate change was the main issue of Steggall’s campaign, and thanks to the support of ordinary Aussies she was able to blindside former prime minister by winning his formerly safe seat.
Get involved with the AYCC and SEED
Two organisations at the forefront of climate action in Australia are the Australian Youth Climate Council (AYCC) and the Seed Indigenous Youth Climate Network. The groups, which support one another, have a combined membership of over 150,000 young Aussies.
There are plenty of ways to get involved with these organisations to raise awareness and even improve your own knowledge.
Joining their campaigns is a great chance to educate yourself. Learn about why we need to stop fracking for both climate change and Indigenous land rights. These issues intersect and it’s useful to learn about how these structures work so we can overcome them. Or maybe you’d like to find out why “stop Adani” has been on everyone’s lips lately.
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Attend meetings to learn how to better show solidarity with those on the forefront of the fight for climate justice, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Brush up on your leafleting skills, and discuss how to stage an action on your campus.
Even just signing up for their email newsletter deposits small nuggets of wisdom straight into your inbox, while adding your name to a petition makes your name count, literally. Before you know it, you’ll be spouting out climate change facts to everyone you know.
Then take this knowledge and run with it. The AYCC and SEED hold demonstrations around the country, and turning up is a big reason why they are so frequently able to get the attention of politicians and the general public.
Show solidarity at the School Strike for Climate
Striking is how we get things done. If your boss treats you like shit, workers can band together to remind them who is really in control.
When it comes to climate change, the boss is the government and the workers are young Aussies. It’s our futures that are being jeopardised by irresponsible climate policy, so it’s our turn to step up and remind them who runs this country.
The School Strike for Climate is incredible. No government can turn a blind eye to masses of empty classrooms. It’s a huge logistical upheaval and they’re not really sure what to do at this stage. This is where we want them.
There’s a reason why the movement’s founder, Greta Thunberg, has become a household name in just over a year: because her method works. The teenager is joined by other activists around the world, including 23-year-old Vanessa Nakate of Uganda, who proved that no matter how much people try to erase her struggle, her actions speak louder than anything else.
Even if you’re not a uni or high school student, it’s still important to show solidarity with the kids who are leading one of the most significant movements of a generation. By turning up at the strikes around Australia you are showing both students and bystanders that they have your support.
That’s it. You’re politically engaged now. It’s really that easy, and in future you’ll be able to look back and see how far you’ve come.Image: Getty Images / Don Arnold