Q&A: Power Shift 2013

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Power Shift 2013 is Australia’s largest ever youth climate summit. We spoke to Alexandra Soderlund, the NSW Online Coordinator of Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) about the collective power of young people and how, together, we can  tackle one of the biggest challenges of the century.

INTERVIEW Nathan Li

Power Shift aims to bring 2000 young people together, how do you believe the collective power of youth will have an impact on climate change?

Young people have a moral voice on climate change, and a passion and idealism that means we’re not scared to advocate for the world we need to see. From calling for greater investment in renewable energy to halting the expansion of coal ports on the Great Barrier Reef, big things happen when young people come together.

Power Shift will be Australia’s largest ever climate summit, a convergence of over 2000 young people from across the progressive movement, held in Melbourne 13-15 July [this year]. Power Shift will launch an election campaign to put climate change – and other youth and progressive issues – on the [federal] election agenda. Anyone who cares about the outcome of this election, and anyone who cares about climate change will be there to help create the future we want.

What is on the agenda for the conference?

Power Shift will take place over three days. The first [day] focuses on giving people the knowledge they need for tackling the climate crisis and understanding the political situation. The second looks at the upcoming federal election and the impact young people can have. We’ll finish up with a 2000 person action in the heart of Melbourne to get the attention of leaders and key decision makers. There will be masterclasses, a political Q&A run by OurSay with the leaders of the political parties, a comedy debate (including Good News Week’s Claire Hooper) and election planning sessions.

There are a lot of climate change sceptics out there. Do you think what they say has merit? How do you plan to convince them, as well as the public, that climate change is reality?

Well, really they are climate change deniers – they are denying the evidence. If a doctor told me I was sick, I wouldn’t question his education or the results of the tests he’d done. Especially if he told me I was getting worse and had a short window to avoid the worst effects. 97% of climate scientists agree that human-induced climate change is happening – the consensus is overwhelming. This ‘scepticism’ is decreasing, denier numbers are shrinking, so it’s more productive to focus our energies elsewhere – such as putting pressure on decision makers in business and government to move away from fossil fuels and invest in renewable energy.

What do you think the real barriers are for Australia to shift towards renewable energy? Lack of science evidence? Political unwillingness? The power of market and large corporations? Or simply inertia to change?

Beyond Zero Emissions, [which is] a great organisation, has published a series of reports detailing how Australia can transition to 100% renewable energy. It’s technologically possible, and makes economic sense. Political unwillingness is a part of it, as well as the power of the fossil fuel industry, but many people also don’t realise it’s possible. That’s why it’s so important for thousands of voices coming together and advocating for a clean, renewable energy future. That’s why events like Power Shift make a difference.

How can young people join the summit and any other activities run by AYCC?

You can grab a ticket right now at powershift.org.au! If you can’t come to Power Shift but still want to get involved send us an email at nsw@aycc.org.au and make sure to like our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ayccnsw.