Sarah is based in Tāmaki Makaurau | Auckland. She works full time as a software developer, but in her spare time volunteers with Greenpeace, Fridays for Future, Extinction Rebellion and Restore Passenger Rail.

On 24 September, as part of the global Fridays for Future movement, Youth for Climate Luxembourg organise a climate demonstration in the capital city’s streets, stopping in front of some of the main buildings of the country’s financial centre, one of the biggest in the world. © Lise Bockler / Greenpeace
© Lise Bockler / Greenpeace

I remember learning about global warming in primary school. I remember learning about greenhouse gases and deforestation. I remember learning about renewable energy, like solar panels and wind turbines and hydro. I remember learning about how the climate would change if we didn’t give up fossil fuels in time. I remember learning that the ice caps would melt and polar bears wouldn’t have a place to live anymore.

That was almost 15 years ago. 

In those years, I’ve been making the individual choices I can to reduce my impact on the planet. I recycle. The majority of my clothes are second-hand. I opt for vegan (or at least vegetarian) food. Since I started having a consistent form of income, I’ve been donating regularly to multiple environmental charities. I pick up rubbish when there is a bin nearby or I can take it with me. I don’t drive or fly.

I’ve been making these choices because I’ve felt like they are the right thing to do, because I’ve felt like it is my responsibility to act for the environment. At times, it’s been exhausting. Especially when over my lifetime emissions have only increased and my individual actions feel like a mere drop in the bucket. The truth is that individual actions will not be enough to get us out of the climate crisis. We need to come together and demand systemic changes.

No matter how much rubbish I pick up, if Coke keeps making single use plastic bottles, people will still drink from them, and they will still end up in our oceans. No matter how much I avoid consuming dairy, Fonterra will still be our country’s biggest polluter. No matter how many car-free journeys I make (and convince my friends to make), if active or public transport isn’t accessible, people will still drive. If car manufacturers keep making petrol cars, people will still drive them. If there is no passenger rail between Christchurch and Dunedin, of course people will fly and drive between the two cities.

Everyone knew for years that single use plastic shopping bags were bad for the environment. Everyone knew they choked sea turtles. But that didn’t stop people in Aotearoa from using them. It was the government ban that did.

I found my way into climate activism because I was tired of trying so hard to make a difference as an individual, while the climate situation has only gotten worse. So I started to push for something bigger than myself to make a difference. For our government to make a difference. I’ve been voting since I turned 18. I’ve written submissions to Parliament and the Ministry for the Environment. I’ve lost count of the number of petitions I’ve signed.

We need our government to take meaningful climate action now. We’re already seeing the effects of the climate crisis.

I volunteered with the Auckland flood clean-up and it was heartbreaking seeing the effect the flooding had on communities. This is climate change. Extreme weather events will only become more intense and more frequent. I’m scared about what the future has in store for myself and my loved ones. 

That’s why I’ll be at the Global Climate Strike on March 3rd. We need to come together to hold the government and big business accountable for emissions. Nationally, we’ll be striking in 11 cities with 5 demands. These demands are what we want to see from our government within the first 100 days of the newly elected government.

  1. No new fossil fuel mining or exploration
  2. Lower the voting age to 16
  3. 30% ocean protection by 2025
  4. Support farmers to transition to regenerative agriculture
  5. E-bike rebates for lower income households

Check out School Strike 4 Climate NZ to find the climate strike closest to you, and be there.

Banner: Global Climate Strike 3.3.23