Young protesters turned out in force last March in Peregian to rally against climate change inaction by the world leaders.
Young protesters turned out in force last March in Peregian to rally against climate change inaction by the world leaders.

Kids’ growing fears over climate change

FEARS of a world ruined by climate change is driving rising anxiety levels in young people who say they are unwilling to bring more children into this world.

That is according to Noosa Councillor Brian Stockwell, who told council during debate on the shire’s Health and Wellbeing Plan, one in five students surveyed said they were “planning to either not have children or have fewer children because of climate change”.

“We must give our young people a clear voice about their concerns and their input to how we approach this issue,” Cr Stockwell told this week’s general committee meeting,” he said.

Cr Stockwell said Noosa should follow the example of the Cairns City Council who last year undertook a survey of high school students from across the city and gave them the opportunity to express their concerns, hopes and aspirations in a youth summit.

The results of the summit will help council shape our action plan to respond to climate change.

“I think it is clear that we need to be acknowledging the concerns about the health and wellbeing impacts of a changing climate and engaging our community and particularly our youth in developing actions to address the risks.”

Last March at Peregian Shellie Joseph, a Year 12 student from St Patrick’s in Gympie, organised the School Strike for Climate rally as part of an estimated 150,000 protesters Australia wide.

“Everyone here’s concerned. Everyone here is standing up, they’re having a voice and they are here making change and it tells our government that they should be scared,” Ms Joseph said back then.

Peregian Beach's School Strike for Climate organiser Shellie Joseph with Lilly and Lotte Klein during the rally last March.
Peregian Beach's School Strike for Climate organiser Shellie Joseph with Lilly and Lotte Klein during the rally last March.

Cr Stockwell said Noosa’s declared Climate Emergency, to combat impacts like the intensification of bushfires and predicted sea rises as “the giant, missing piece” in Noosa’s approach to “protecting the health and wellbeing of its citizens”.

“Until now, we’ve planned for things like smoking, sun protection and helping our most vulnerable locals, but we now know we have to urgently consider climate change in the same way,” he said.

Cr Brian Stockwell successfully moved to include clear steps for dealing with the health impacts of climate change in the plan.

Noosa’s Climate Change Adaption Plan is due for completion in the middle of this year and Cr Stockwell said the World Health Organisation maintains climate change is the greatest threat to global health this century.

“Like much of the east coast, the unprecedented fires we experienced starting well before the normal fire season in spring, are a clear reminder that the climate emergency is not something to deal with in the future, it is here and now,” Cr Stockwell said.

“We know that ‘at risk’ people in our community are being affected by extreme heat, that there are mental health impacts caused by the severe weather that created catastrophic fire conditions.

“In particular, the elderly, as well as other vulnerable groups in the community, are more exposed to direct physical impacts of climate change and may require greater assistance from their familial and social networks, and emergency services in preparing for and responding to extreme weather events,” he said.

Cr Ingrid Jackson welcomed the move to recognise the climate threat to local wellbeing in Noosa and noted that enhancing residents’ wellbeing was behind the council’s approach to local government.