Australian Volunteers International

September 24, 2019

Climate change the defining issue of our time

Unfortunately, yesterday’s headline “Climate change ‘hitting harder and sooner’ than forecast, warn scientists ahead of UN meeting” is now a recurring theme in the world’s media.

This time, it is the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) that say climate change is accelerating, with sea levels rising, carbon dioxide levels increasing and ice sheets melting faster than ever before. It “highlights the urgent need for the development of concrete actions that halt global warming and the worst effects of climate change.”

The stark reality is that we are now experiencing the top of the scientist’s predictions on climate change and “even if all countries meet the goals they set themselves, the world will warm by 2.9C to 3.4C.” This would be catastrophic to our planet and our species.

Climate change is currently having the biggest impact on vulnerable people in developing countries, such as when crops fail due to lack/too much water or temperature changes and subsistence farmers cannot put food on the table for their families and communities. This includes our neighbours, as passionately demonstrated at the Pacific Islands Forum leaders meeting in Tuvalu last month.

This is why we need more ambitious targets for reductions in carbon emissions, including in Australia, and bipartisan plans to transition to low carbon economies. We already have the technology, as shown in the 2040 film and demonstrated by last week’s headline “Australia could produce 200% of energy needs from renewables by 2050”.

This is also why the AVI team proudly joined 100,000 other Melbournians in the Global Climate Strike last week and will continue to advocate for action.

In our sector, I am delighted that AVI has been selected to host the annual global conference of the International Forum for Volunteering for Development on Volunteering for Climate Action from 26-28 October 2020 in the Pacific. AVI is working with forum members and researchers on developing resources to assist agencies harness their volunteering for development programs to build capacity with partner organisations and communities for climate change resilience and adaption.

Additionally, AVI continues to encourage and drive change through skills exchange with several climate-safe positions available with the Australian Volunteers Program. I urge you to pause and reflect on the power each and every one of us has to make a difference and more importantly, to act on those realisations.