How the Climate Duty of Care Bill impacts future generations
By Dante Casanova, Save the Children Youth Advisor.
When I was 11 years old my school had an assembly with a guest speaker. There was nothing extraordinary about this, except the opening of this speech was this question: “Who here believes in climate change?”
It was the summer of 2013 in a small Catholic school in rural NSW, and the guest speaker talked for an hour about why climate change was a conspiracy made up by scientists to distract us from what he saw as more pressing issues.
This speech encapsulated the views about climate change that I was raised with. It was a childhood filled with paranoia about how the government is lying to me every step of the way.
But then, I grew up. At 16, I escaped my abusive parents and insular right-wing community and over the next five years started to learn about…everything. Including climate change. And how many species have gone extinct. And the extent of the pollution. And the landfill. And the government still approving coal mines. And apparently, I still don’t know how to recycle.
But wait, there's more. 'Personal carbon footprints’ were invented by a corporation, and it is fossil fuel companies who are responsible for this mess, but they’re massive donors to politicians, so no one does anything about it AND OH MY GOD THIS IS A DISASTER.
The future facing children should we fail to respond to the climate crisis.
Photo: Save the Children.
It was terrifying to learn all this. But the way I cope with fear is to do something. So, I found out how others my age are taking action: School Strike 4 Climate, community gardens with native plants, so, so many protests. But unfortunately, I couldn’t do any of it.
I have a mobility disability. I often use a crutch to walk, and even still I can’t walk very far. I am proudly disabled, but I can’t go to protests. They’re not safe for me, or for a lot of disabled people. Especially since the police have ramped up their use of force on climate activists, the likelihood that I would need to move much quicker than I am able is too high a risk.
On top of this, the messaging (originating from campaigns by major polluters) around our personal carbon footprint and individual responsibility to tackle climate change is absolutely suffocating. I don’t have the money or resources required to travel to zero waste stores. The excruciating joint pain I experience daily makes microwave meals a necessity. Considering this, it’s very easy for me to take more than my fair share of blame that we’re in a climate emergency, like I have the power to end climate change by just washing out my milk cartons.
Author and Save the Children Youth Advisor, Dante Casanova.
Photo: Supplied by author.