Gareth Hughes: Climate change for good

Opinion 28/05/2019

By Gareth Hughes, Green Party MP.

How do you stay optimistic facing climate catastrophe? Turn to the kids.

It would be easy to be discouraged and demotivated reading the latest climate science. As a dad to two kids, I worry about their future in a climate-changed world.

The experts say we have only twelve years to slash pollution in half.

Yet global emissions are increasing, Trump wants to pull out of the Paris climate deal and we are drilling, mining and fracking ourselves towards a planetary fever.

I’ve been campaigning for climate action for close to twenty years both at Greenpeace, and in Parliament with the Green Party, but after the school strike for climate movement I’ve never felt as optimistic as I do now.

Last week I joined a huge crowd of students at Parliament for the second climate strike.

I’ve been inspired by the phenomenal growth of the School Strike for Climate movement.

From Swedish high school student Greta Thunberg’s lone stand a year ago it has ballooned to a global campaign, with millions now participating.

The youth may not be able to vote but they are showing what leadership looks like.

Another reason we can look to the future with confidence is the climate leadership New Zealand is setting. Last week our Parliament passed the first reading of the Zero Carbon Bill, which will be the first national legislation to enshrine reducing global warming to 1.5 degrees in law.

With the Greens in Government we have seen an end to offshore oil exploration, a massive increase in funding of public transport, walking and cycling and a goal of 100% renewable electricity.

Meanwhile the price of solar, batteries, and electric vehicles continues to plummet making it easier to reduce our pollution.

We are in a climate emergency and it is scary but acting is empowering.

Reducing pollution grows jobs, builds better ways of getting around our towns, and delivers fresher air, more trees and a healthier environment.

The youth are showing us change for good.

Gareth Hughes is a Green Party MP.