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Auckland climate striker Rebecca is one of the bold young people speaking truth to power and taking on the companies that are making a profit from fuelling the climate crisis. We talk to Rebecca about what motivates her and how anyone can get involved with the climate uprising.
Hey, Rebecca! Tell us a bit about you – where did you grow up?
I’ve lived in Auckland my whole life. I grew up spending a lot of time outside and tramping with my family. Because of this I’ve always felt a connection with the environment, and value it a lot. I’ve just finished high school and I’m heading down to Victoria University (in Wellington) next year.
How did you get involved with the climate strikes?
I got involved with the climate strikes right when the movement was beginning in Auckland, when a friend from school invited me along to one of the first meetings at Western Springs College. From there I met a bunch of like minded high schoolers keen to make a wave in the tide of climate inaction that we were facing from the government. That core group has since grown and changed significantly over the course of the last three national strikes.
The most recent climate strike was on the 27th September, with over 170,000 Kiwis of all ages hitting the streets, and 80,000 in Auckland alone. What did it feel like being out there at the big climate strike event?
Being at the climate strike was incredible! Seeing people from all walks of life unite together on the streets gave me a huge rush of hope. It’s so amazing to see that so many people see the climate crisis as a crucial issue that the government needs to act on.
What makes you passionate about doing this climate work?
I’m passionate about being a climate activist as I think that there is no excuse for us to allow climate change to claim lives, livelihoods and our planet, when it can be prevented. Already five Pacific Islands are underwater and we have a responsibility to prevent further harm. It honestly scares me that we are not already doing more, and the thought of what the future will be like is frightening. I think that it is so important that we do everything in our power to make a change, and as a first world country, we have the ability to make the changes needed.
Making change can be both rewarding and challenging. What gives you hope?
Organising the climate strikes has also given me hope as I have witnessed first hand that the stigma around caring about issues such as climate change has changed. It is now socially unacceptable to be a climate denier, and is generally encouraged to be an activist. This societal change really gives me hope that we can propel the government into implementing ambitious climate change legislation. The work of activists over the last few years has created the perfect social atmosphere for the government to take action on climate change, now it would be great to see them act.
What’s one piece of encouragement you’d give to someone who has never been involved with activism or the climate crisis?
Just get out there and get your voice heard! Have a look around and try and find events near you that are targeting the issues you are passionate about. Activism occurs on many levels, and all people are welcome. With an issue as huge as the climate crisis it is easy to feel helpless and like it’s impossible to be effective, but being an activist helps you to feel like you are a part of something bigger that is really effecting change, which is great.
Inspired by Rebecca’s words?
Here are three things you can do to join the climate uprising.
Sign the petition calling on New Zealand’s government to declare a climate emergency
It’s time the New Zealand government faced up to the reality of the climate crisis. We’re calling on our leaders to follow the lead of other governments and councils around the world and declare a climate emergency – then act on it.
Ever wanted to put a banner on an oil rig?
Use our online tool to send OMV a message they can’t ignore.
Join Rebecca in Auckland to evict oil giant OMV!
Here’s what Rebecca had to say: “In Auckland we are organising a local action in Auckland with the intent of telling Austrian oil giant OMV that they are ‘evicted’, and that they, as an oil company, have no place in Aotearoa. As the climate crisis is an issue that will affect everyone, we want this action to be inclusive of everyone, and it would be amazing to see lots of people there. There is NO excuse for the New Zealand government to continue to allow OMV to drill for oil off our coasts.”
Here’s Rebecca and Lourdes in our ‘On the Cards’ series discussing courage, getting arrested, systemic change, the best shoes for climate striking, motivational dancing and what we’re going to do together to give OMV the boot and make oil history!