Paris attacks won’t deter us from Climate Conference: activists


A strong Australian contingent of young activists will attend the UN Climate Change Conference in the French capital, and say they want to make their presence felt.

More than 45,000 people are expected to descend on Paris for the United Nations Climate Change Conference beginning on November 30.

Representatives from almost 200 countries will attend, including government delegates, business groups and academics.

But civil society will also play a major part, with activists making up more than half of the attendees.

That includes young farmers Josh Gilbert and Anika Molesworth, who believe going to Paris is like a dream come true.

Ms Molesworth, whose family's farm is located near Broken Hill in regional New South Wales, said the conference would be a pivotal experience in her life.

"I would like to be the next generation of food producers," she told SBS.

"I would like to own a farm one day. So I see climate change as my biggest challenge.

“I go to Paris to speak with great minds, to learn what is being implemented around the world, to bring home ideas that are being implemented on farms in different countries, to share them with Australian farmers - 'What can we do back here to help secure our food production and fibre production in our country?'"

The pair crowd-funded almost $6000 to cover their trip and Mr Gilbert said he wanted to learn as much as possible.

"It's really exciting, because it means that we have the chance to actually have a voice there and also bring back some really good skills,” he said.

“It's a great opportunity for us to connect with really young people and gain some of their knowledge and ideas, while also mixing with everyone else over there to make sure that we do bring back practical solutions for the future."

Who will be attending?

The Climate Change Conference will be one of the largest international conferences ever held with government delegates, academics and non-government organisations from all over the world attending.

Climate Institute chief executive John Connor said delegates would be aiming for a global agreement on climate change.

"We've got to have ways in which nations and peoples can work together for common outcomes, and this is a real big one,” Mr Connor said.

“Countries around the world said they want to avoid two degrees warming, but this is an agreement where we'll set up something which is bankable, accountable and fair."


Other voices to be heard will include that of Young Conservationist of the Year, and proud Bundjalung woman, Amelia Telford.

“The environment is something that is a part of who I am, and it's likewise for a lot of Indigenous young people,” Ms Telford told SBS.

“We need to be cutting our emissions, we need to be transitioning to renewable sources of energy, and we also need to be supporting communities that are already facing the impacts."

Key issues to be addressed?

Coastal communities are among those already feeling the impacts of a warming climate.

Maria Tiimon Chi-Fang, from the Pacific island of Kiribati, said it was not just in the low-lying nations where coastal erosion was a constant threat.

"That is why Paris, for the Kiribati, is so important, because, with climate change, it's not just about the sea-level rise and erosion,” Mr Chi-Fang said.

“Of course, we have erosion. Some people have started to move away from where they live because of erosion. But there are also many issues apart from the impacts of climate change, like inundation, brackish water, more storm surges."

Fear levels in France are at their highest in the wake of the Paris attacks.

But instead of deterring delegates from going, Ms Chi-Fang believes it has done the opposite.

"No, I will go,” she said.

“For the people of Kiribati, for my people and the people who are so vulnerable on this issue, and also for the future of my son, who is only three years old, I will go."

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