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Thinking ahead

This is why your children need to know about Anjali Sharma:  Together with seven other girls and a nun, she challenged the Australian Minister for the Environment on the duty to protect young people from climate change in a lawsuit… and won.  It’s true that government authorities are constantly juggling what seems like a million and one priorities on their plate, but what is really at the heart of good governance and social responsibility? This is the question that Anjali’s class action tackles.

So who is Anjali Sharma?

Growing up in Australia, Anjali heard about global warming and wanted to know more.  After going through all the information available at her primary school, she took her research further - to Youtube, where informational videos warned of the climate disaster that would happen if we don’t get global warming under control.   With a deadline of 8 years before the damage to the environment becomes irreversible, the message was clear: disaster is coming. 

“Wow, [every day] we are one day closer to that deadline.”

Reports of delayed and insufficient rainfall came in from her relatives overseas, farmers in India.  These were people who were dependent on stable and regular weather patterns for their livelihood, letting her know that the weather was out of sorts.  It was clear to Anjali that these were real-life examples of climate change.   

“Growing up in Australia, I consider myself really fortunate. I got an education that helped me make sense of what was happening.”

So, it’s confirmed, disaster is already unfolding…  but why aren’t we doing something about it?  Anjali began sharing her thoughts, feelings, and worries about climate change on Instagram. She discovered that many others felt the same way as she did, especially after the 2020 wildfires that ravaged the country.  It was a devastating lesson on the impact and severity not only of fire but the sudden release of millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide.  

And while many Australians were reflecting on what they learned from this national disaster, Whitehaven Coal, one of the country’s largest mining companies, was thinking about expansion instead.   The project would result in an additional 100 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions from the extraction process alone. But what about the distributors that will be transporting it globally?  And the consumers that will be buying and burning it?  Whitehaven Coal already knew the answers to these questions.  In an Air Quality and Greenhouse Gas assessment completed as part of the expansion plans proposal, the data showed that the carbon emissions from mining activities were just the tip of the iceberg.

So what does this mean?

While there are many details and stakeholders involved in this issue, what’s most important is this: Anjali Sharma, along with seven other teenage girls, are leveraging their youth to call out the Australian government on shirking responsibility on climate. Like the ghost of Christmas-yet-to-come, the youth are reminding us of the impact of present decisions and that generations aren’t isolated - baby boomers, generation x,y, z, and alpha … we’re in this together.  And although it’s not feasible to think about everyone all the time, let’s take advantage of the holidays to channel all the love, joy, and hope into crafting the dream that’s about to come true: our future. 

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