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Presentation: Kaeleigh Peard Aug 13th 2019

Good morning Mayor Innes and councillors of the Eurobodalla,

My name is Kaeleigh Peard and I am a year 6 student at Sunshine Bay Public School. Thank you for the opportunity to speak in front of you today. At school we learn about government and how parliament is here to represent the people of the country. I feel lucky to live in a country where I; a young person, a student and a female, can stand in front of my local government and ask them to represent me. I am asking you to please say yes to passing the Climate Emergency declaration today.

At our school, we have been working at recycling and reducing single use plastics. We also have a school garden to teach us to grow our own food. Our school is close to 2 beaches which we try to clean up every year. I think it is important that we look after our local area. Early this year, I saw a movie about climate change and what people were doing or not doing about it. That was when I realised that this is bigger than rubbish on a beach. Climate change is actually a real thing and we all need to take it seriously and do something about it. We need to keep global warming below an increase of 2 degrees or we’re all in massive trouble. In October, the united nations warned that we only have 12 years to do this or climate change will become irreversible. More recent studies are warning we do not even have that long. 935 governments in 18 countries have declared a climate emergency, including Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart city councils. Please let Eurobodalla council be next to say that this is important.

In May this year, after a Climate change event hosted by a Yr. 12 student from St Peter’s, I got to have lunch with Professor Will Steffen, his wife and their little, black dog named Raffaele. Professor Will Steffen is an extremely intelligent man but he explained things so that my brother, sister and I could understand. He spoke to us about the bleaching of the coral in the Great Barrier Reef. He told us that the colour of the coral is made up from millions of small, living algae and that the rising temperature of the water is killing it. If we can somehow lower the water temperature, the algae will eventually grow back, and we can see the wonderful reefs like in the movie Finding Nemo.

In the school holidays, my family and I made a big road trip because we wanted to see the reef before it disappears. We drove inland through Lightning Ridge where it is now so hot and dry that the cacti were dead. We visited inland towns that had signs and information about the importance of the Great Artesian Basin and how crucial it is to care for this limited resource. We drove for days and days through brown, thirsty land and many rivers on the GPS were all dried up. We enjoyed some gorgeous rainforests and beaches but not without people telling us about the changes they have noticed. The man who lives on the Daintree river told us that the water temperature has risen, and this has changed the time of migration of animals. He also sadly told us about the mangroves that were once filled with white lipped frogs every year. He said very few visit any more and when they do, it is at strange times. Trish, on a night walk, told us about the bugs and insects that are no longer in the area. Even my mum said it was different from 20 years ago.

Following advice that the reef off Port Douglas is not what it once was, we visited the beautiful Whitehaven beach and enjoyed snorkelling at the Whitsundays. Jane, a marine biologist visiting from the UK, talked to us about the marine life and coral we saw. It was like being at the drop off in Finding Nemo, just with less colour. However, when people go on holidays and visit the reef and see what we saw, they could be tricked into thinking that the reef is alive and well. Our skipper, Daniel, told us that they used to have many places to take visitors to enjoy the reef. Now, they are limited to about 5 locations, and really, only 2 or 3 decent ones.

I am lucky. I got to see something of what remains. In the future, if we don’t act, there will be no great Barrier reef. The climate is changing. Our land is changing. Why aren’t we?

We kids are the future. We will be the adults living in a world where there will be more and more chaotic weather events. Only this week 57 people have died and 18 000 have been taken to hospital in my country of birth, Japan, because of a severe heatwave. My grandparents tell me they have never experienced summers like todays.

I love where I live. I love that I can surf and share the waves with dolphins. I love our earth. I am worried that we are really hurting the planet and ourselves. We need to listen to scientists like Will Steffen. They tell us we are running out of time.

My question to you is, “do you want your children and grandchildren to say that you were in a position to make a difference but didn’t? Or do you want them to be able to say that you listened, acted and made a difference?”

I am only 11. I need adults who can do something to think about the world myself, my children and my grandchildren will be living in. Thank you for allowing me to speak today.

Please, I hope that you will say yes to passing the climate emergency declaration.

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