Young Labor Activists are leading a rank-and-file campaign for climate justice from the party's youth wing.
A Green New Deal will not only address a gaping policy hole in NSW Labor, it will foster a new generation of people that will continue to drive the ideals of transformative governance. Young Labor members have already travelled to frontline communities to hear about their struggle against new coal and gas projects. These young party activists have since produced a documentary and rank-and-file campaign.
Over the last few years, Young Labor Left (YLL) and other Labor activists have been organising across regional NSW, listening to farmers,
Indigenous activists and local Labor members. A campaign of this nature is always going to be controversial in the party. We hope to show what we heard from communities and the policies that have been developed in conjunction and agreed upon by rank and file members.
Our campaign has been necessary because the ALP’s messaging on climate change isn’t working. Campaigning in the Upper Hunter by-election demonstrated to us and to many local Labor activists we spoke to that we can’t win back voters telling them we’re somehow pro-renewables without being anti-fossil fuel. Ordinary people see through this double-speak.
The ALP is failing to confront the growing anxiety by workers and their communities when coal stations and mines are being forced to close by the global shift to renewables. As a party, we’re fooling ourselves if we think we can just champion climate change and avoid the topic of what happens to coal communities because we think it’s electoral poison. The real poison is leaving them out of our policies and telling them it’s ‘up to market forces’ to decide the future of their jobs.
And the truth is that right now the region we have been visiting aren’t transitioning away from fossil fuels, they’re transitioning towards them. The Hunter Valley has increased its coal production by a quarter in 10 years. Through fracking for CSG, Australia has quintupled its liquified natural gas (LNG) exports to become the largest shipper of fossil methane in the world. This expansion of extraction is directly hurting the very communities held up by the media as the defenders of fossil fuels. Despite this, these communities have been disenfranchised. Their concerns are repeatedly railroaded.
Yet there is reason to take hope. Around the world, the movement for a Green New Deal is uniting workers, environmentalists and First Nations people around a message that we can tackle the climate crisis head on through by working together. We have connected with many different activists in the movements that have been supportive of our work in the party and in the wider communities.
Motions in local branches were passed in twenty branches and electorate councils calling for worker-led climate action and a moratorium on fracking. A position that was also endorsed by a meeting of over 90 rank-and-file ALP members. We have also helped renew the hopes of countless young people agonising over the climate crisis that their aspirations have a place in the Labor party and give voice and lead to a truly transformative democratic process in our communities.
A Green New Deal will not only address a gaping hold in policy but will also foster a new generation of people that will continue to be driving the ideals of transformative governance. We will continue to campaign for a Green New Deal because we think that it is important for our party and the communities that we hope to serve.