Young Australians want stronger action on climate change


Climate Change

Green teens

Credit: Clipart

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Australian youths have voted - and it's clear they want stronger action on climate change.

A large-scale youth vote on climate change action, called Youth Decide, saw 97.5 per cent of respondents - over 37,000 young men and women under 30 - wanting the Australian Government to come up with stronger emissions targets.

"In the lead up to the critical UN climate change conference in Copenhagen, the generation of Australians who will be most affected by climate change have for the first time voted for the world they want to inherit," said Amanda McKenzie, co-director of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, one of the voting campaign organizers, and this year's joint winner of the Banksia Young Environmentalist of the Year Award.

Over 91 per cent of voters wanted an Australian Government emissions reduction target of 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, while a further 5.9 per cent wanted cuts in the range of 25 to 40 per cent. Just 2.5 per cent of voters were happy with the government's current targets.

Young people around the country organised more than 330 voting events for Youth Decide, making it one of the biggest per capita mobilisations of young people on climate change anywhere in the world.

"The most interesting demographic was the 17 to 19 age group, who will be voting for the first time in the next election," said Alana Smith, National Director of World Vision's youth movement, Vision Generation, which was also behind the voting campaign.

"Less than 3 per cent of voters in that age group agreed with the Australian Government's current targets - I think that sends a really strong message to both sides of politics that the next generation of voters will not accept half measures in combating climate change," she said.

"The Youth Decide results show that when young people are given accessible information on the government's climate change policies, they recognise that the current policies are not in their interest and the vast majority want much stronger action," added McKenzie.

"We are asking the Australian Government to listen to the voice of youth and play a positive leadership role at the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen, in order to secure an agreement that will protect the future of the youth of the world."

The results of the vote will be presented by World Vision chief executive Tim Costello at Climate Week in New York this week.

They will also be presented to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd before December's Copenhagen conference, and a delegation of young Australians will also hand over the results to the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen.