We have been very lucky to work with some fantastic groups on the local government scorecards project. Today we talk to Alicia Hall, the founder and spokesperson for Millions of Mothers.
Why did Millions of Mothers want to get involved in the Common Climate Network questionnaire?
We were working out a strategy for approaching local candidates when we came across the Common Climate Network questionnaire. We saw no need to reinvent the wheel and offered to assist in whatever capacity was needed. It seemed a perfect match. We see councils playing a crucial role in future proofing our communities especially if climate conscious and youth candidates are represented.
What other activity are you carrying out for the local government elections?
We are keen to support our local communities to be able to vote which may mean hosting voting morning teas, to posting the voting papers of your elderly neighbour, to helping youth enrol and register for a special vote if they aren’t enrolled already. #voteclimate
Why do you think it’s important to do that?
We think it is important for everyone to vote, especially youth, given the impact of inaction around the climate crisis will have on their future. Encouraging people to vote according to their values and keeping their children’s future environment in mind.
What are your perspective on why we need to act on climate change?
We have left it far too late. The earliest warnings about the dangers of burning fossil fuels and the impact on our environment was in the late 1800s. Scientists in the 1970s advised very strongly that we needed to start mitigating the effects immediately.
Over 40 years later, it is now only dawning on the world’s governments and general public that the climate crisis is indeed very serious and has devastating impacts for our children if we don’t adapt to our changing world now.
I am accountable to my children. We are accountable to the next generation coming. We need to clean up our mess now before they have to deal with issues such as food and resource shortages, extreme weather, new diseases due to a warming planet and overwhelming influx of climate refugees,
What have you found out so far?
Overall it’s great to see candidates thinking about climate and many are including this essential subject in their campaigns. However, we’re disappointed that many candidates including experienced councillors still don’t have the depth of understanding really needed on climate issues.
Last Friday was a great day, what do you hope to see next?
We hope to see the Zero Carbon Bill enacted with real teeth. We hope to see councils develop robust climate emergency plans through good consultation with both their communities, youth and tangata whenua. We hope to see an adaptation plan put in place by Parliament by the end of 2020 and for New Zealand to be well on the path to transitioning to a cleaner, healthier, just and equitable way of being by 2030.
How do you think we can encourage more people to vote, especially young people?
By asking them how they see their future. Asking them what that ideally looks like? Asking in what ways do they think they can make that happen? Asking them to question everyone and everything. By asking if we can help them with the process. By going through the process and the candidates as a family and asking youth their opinions, even youth not old enough to vote. By supporting our youth to use their voice every single opportunity they get. They have the power to change the make up of councils. They have the power to change what council members look like.
Do you know of any other groups doing similar activities in your area or other areas?
In smaller regions in particular, parents are involved with local community groups, particularly community conservation groups interested in protecting and preserving their forests and waterways. Nationally, School Strikes for Climate (SS4C) and Extinction Rebellion.
How long have you been involved in Millions of Mothers and why did you get involved?
I founded Millions of Mothers mid May before the May SS4C strike. I wanted to show parent support for SS4C and my fear and anxiety for my children needed an outlet and it turns out I am not the only one who feels that way! There are many barriers for mothers taking direct action and it lead to many feeling a sense of helplessness and powerlessness.
I also attended the first strike on March 15 with my 3 children then aged between 3 and 10, and my 10 year old in particular was empowered by the experience and taking action helped lessen his anxiety. What helped lessen it most though – was seeing his parents become directly involved in climate activism.
How long has Millions of Mothers been around in NZ and why was it established? And what regions is it active in?
Since May 2019 and we are now beginning to grow our regional groups. It is national based (although we also have overseas support and part of a global parent climate group network) and started with a need for solidarity and support, beginning to take hope through action.
These actions may be chalktivism at a local park or outside the local MPs office, emailing MPs and councils to Picnics at Parliament to support our fellow parent Ollie Langridge. We also fully support SS4C NZ.
Where should people go for more information?