School Strike 4 Climate (Photo: Facebook/Sophie Handford)

We acted on Covid to save lives. The same should apply to climate change, too

For the next 10 weeks, the Vote Climate 2020 campaign will be looking to build momentum behind climate change as a key election issue. With the campaign launching today, organiser Sophie Handford explains why a vote for the climate is a vote for saving the future.

Right now it’s 2020 and we have until just 2030 to drastically reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and keep global temperature rise below 1.5%. The importance of building momentum behind a vision of climate justice has never been clearer – we only have three election cycles left to take the necessary action to halve our emissions to be in with a chance of safeguarding this planet. What does or doesn’t happen in the next 10 years will determine the future of the next generation and our votes can influence this for the better. 

Which is why for the next 10 Fridays in the lead up to the election, we’re gathering a team and holding events in as many places as possible across the country to grow momentum around the need to Vote Climate 2020. This movement is to build momentum behind climate change as an election issue nationally and we’re supporting people to ask questions of their local candidates so we can also elect climate leaders locally. 

Sophie Handford encouraging people to vote in local elections in 2019 (Photo: Facebook/Sophie Handford)

Voting for the climate is a vote for all of society. We’re in the midst of a global pandemic, but as we recover we’re presented with an opportunity we might not have again to build from the ground up. We can build better by recognising the intersectionality of the issues and challenges we face and make progress across the board. This planet that we share is facing its own pandemic, suffocated by 100 corporations contributing 70% of global emissions and by leaders who simply aren’t doing enough. We need to stand up for Papatūānuku, our Earth Mother, now more than ever.

Our response to Covid-19 has shown we have the ability to unite to save lives and highlighted the importance of community when we’re forced to change. We needed to change to save lives – the same should apply to climate change, too. 

We demonstrated overwhelming kindness, compassion and support for one another during this time. This can’t stop here. We came together to get New Zealand into one of the best positions globally in relation to Covid-19 and as we recover, we must ensure we are doing the same to use the opportunity to show other countries how a green recovery can be done. If we choose to simply let this moment slip by, we revert back to business as usual which puts this planet that we all share at risk. 

The window of time we have to act within is closing day by day. We’re writing history together and right now, it feels to me like we’re at a tipping point. If we truly recognise the role of this moment in time to ensure a liveable planet for future generations, we’ll move forward, take the necessary action and be on a path to climate justice. But if we let this moment slip by, what kind of ancestors will we be? What will we say to our children, our grandchildren? I want to be able to say I did everything in my power to ensure they had a flourishing, healthy and beautiful world to grow up in. I hope we can all come together in this year’s election, united behind climate justice, for the sake of the next generation who will be inheriting the Aotearoa that our votes create. 

We’ve got three election cycles left and everything is on the line. Knowing the current environmental state of our world, we have a responsibility to act. We have a responsibility to make decisions which have a positive impact. We know how powerful we can be when we’re united. Let’s use our people power this election and Vote Climate to be a part of the change and to be on the right side of history.

Sophie Handford is a Kāpiti Coast District Councillor, national coordinator of School Strike 4 Climate NZ, and an organiser of the Vote Climate 2020 campaign.



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