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Episode 18: Dominique Palmer
Dominique Palmer started her climate activism journey just last year, joining the XR and School Strike protests. Before that, she had been aware of the climate crisis, but not the severity of it, and the more she learnt, the more she realised the close connection between environmental and social justice. “ The two things are inextricably linked together, we can’t separate them”
Dominique tells Safia how she has moved from London to Birmingham to study politics and international relations. She is motivated by her desire for social justice, animal rights and the protection of the planet.
Safia asks about the activities of the Student Climate Network, Domininique explains it’s main demands;
- Save the future- transition to green economy.
- Teach the future – reform education system to create awareness of crisis.
- Tell the future – government needs to communicate severity of the crisis.
- Empower the future – include the young in policy making.
They go on to discuss intergenerational justice, and the anger and frustration young people are feeling. “ We feel betrayed and neglected for the lack of climate action” “ Leaders are betraying those who are going to be impacted first and those who are already suffering from the climate crisis”
Dominique wants to tell government to act on the science, and implement radical systemic change in the form of a Green New Deal to limit global temperature increase. The green economy would mean paid jobs in sustainable sectors, and a reduction in social economic inequalities. It would protect habitats and carbon sinks, and lead to clean water, air and green spaces. It would build a society prepared for the impacts of climate change. “we know the governments can do it, because they come up with billions of pounds for banks whenever they need to – they do have the money for green financing. “
The Green New Deal is a “change in the current system which is profit over planet, it puts people first.” There are 5 principles to the Green New Deal, which originated in the USA and stems from bringing environmental and social justice together. They are:
- Restructuring of the economy.
- Creation of jobs in sustainability
- Reduction of social inequalities
- Protection and restoration of the environment
- Building a resilient society
Safia asks Dominique about her achievements in Student Climate Network. The biggest achievement in 2019 was mobilising an amazing 500,000 people in September for the global strike, this raised awareness, and led to parliament declaring a climate emergency. It made young people feel “more personal to the climate movement” and encouraged more to be engaged in the climate.
Dominique points out that outreach is really important to encourage more young people to join the movement. It’s a mix of techniques, talks, and aligning with other campaigns, for example social justice movements. It’s driven by the need for a cultural mindshift as “consumerism is on the rise and we need to change.”
She talks about social media which she says has been amazing. It’s instantaneous and moves people more to be involved and spreads the message. It’s good for organising strikes as well as being an amazing platform to reach out to different people.
Dominique encourages discussion with parents and grandparents. She says we need all generations to come together. “It’s not just our fight”. Also business leaders. The message is “we need system change, you have power and influence so you need to start using it. “
There will be no mass gatherings on Earth day because of Covid 19 but there are still smaller and online actions continuing all of which are on the Student Climate Network website.
Safia asks if Dominique suffers from climate anxiety and how she deals with it. She agrees that it’s not talked about enough and recounts the depression she felt at first realisation of the climate crisis. However, after her first protest march she felt hope and her anxiety was relieved. She advises anyone suffering should get involved, feel the momentum and look forward to being on the streets for climate justice, because that’s where the hope is coming from.
Fast fashion is the next topic for discussion, and Safia wonders if students have started thinking about the impact of fast fashion, which contributes to 8% of global carbon emissions. Dominique believes many young people are conscious of the environmental and social impact of fast fashion and trying to adapt. She would like to see the message pushed into the wider society however and believes there needs to be more ambitious work towards systems change – small sustainable initiatives are great but government needs to be involved to speed the process along.
Finally, there are three actions to support the Student Climate Network
- Come to strikes
- Follow the group on twitter and instagram
- Share content
- Collaborate, as a group or a business.
REPORTS & OTHER LINKS
UK Student Climate Network https://ukscn.org
Earth Day https://www.earthday.org