A Gen Z’s First Climate Conference

My name is Brendon Henry, and I am a 17 year old Victorian and a recent volunteer at Citizens’ Climate Lobby Australia. This year, I got to participate in the Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s National Conference, and it was a truly rewarding experience for me. Not only did I learn the art of lobbying that the experts use to befriend politicians, but I also learnt about the amazing opportunities and jobs that lie ahead in a climate-smart recovery. Now, I’m hopeful and confident I can help in convincing our governments to adopt this approach to save our jobs, homes and our planet.

I joined the completely digital event, which was great for me because I was in hospital at the time and it allowed me to rest and listen. From the beginning, I was impressed by the organisation of the conference. Despite some of the moderators and timekeepers being relatively recent volunteers themselves, the conference went smoothly without any issues. In addition to that, everyone seemed well prepared to do their bit, which made for a pretty seamless execution.

Zali Steggall, Member of Parliament for Warringah

It was great listening to MP Zali Steggall’s proposal for a climate change bill in the Commonwealth Parliament. Her proposal sounded well researched and realistic. I particularly liked her emphasis on reviewing targets every 5 years in order to evaluate the work that’s been done and the areas for improvement. Although I felt that 2050 is a bit too far for net zero emissions and that a slightly closer date should have been selected, I agreed completely with her approach.

The Q&A session after Steggall’s speech was really informative and it helped make her proposal clearer. She reiterated the importance of constantly reevaluating targets and she cleared up any doubts that people had about the actions that her bill would encourage the government to take. I’m really thankful that MP Steggall took the time out of her busy schedule to address the conference. I hope other MPs can make a showing and declare their commitments to climate change too. 

We went into small groups to practise the lobbying techniques that we had been taught in the workshop. I was the only youth in my group and everyone else was in their 20s and 30s. I quickly wrote down some points and did my utmost best to keep to the 2 minute limit. When my time came around, I managed to hit all the major points and stay within that limit. I felt so accomplished when my peers congratulated me and praised me for keeping so much detail in a fraction of the words. This greatly encouraged me and made me feel highly engaged. 

We returned to the main group afterwards and listened to the speaker talk about the importance of bringing the energy and manufacturing sectors on board with the climate smart recovery plan. They also injected the need for a carbon fee and dividend plan to be implemented in order to ensure climate targets are met. This information was a bit trickier to get down, as it was complicated and dealt with engaging two sectors at once. It was really fascinating and it showed me how much cooperation we need to fight this monster called climate change. 

Once more, we entered our same groups to sharpen our lobbying skills. Being in hospital posed a challenge for me, as I had little opportunity to focus on creating my 2 minute pitch. When the time came for me to present, I managed to cover most of the major points, despite being incredibly nervous and missing a few points. Everyone was very patient with me and they gave me some useful constructive feedback on my work that bolstered my confidence.

Overall, the CCL National Conference was a wonderful experience that allowed me to collaborate with and learn from others on a topic I’m deeply passionate about. I felt like a part of a bigger community, one concerned with protecting our beautiful planet, and that inspired me to keep up the hard work of fighting for a better world for my generation and others to come.

Brendon Henry       16 Nov 2020

Creating the political will for a liveable world