Fighting Back: Youth and Climate Change Resistance in Aotearoa/New Zealand
Young people’s climate change protests in Aotearoa have been reported in the media but little is known about their personal experiences of resistance or the climate justice they seek. This study of a cohort of rangatahi engaged in a range of climate change resistance from environmental restoration to standing for political office addresses that gap in the research. Young climate activists are often portrayed as angry and bitter at older generations for failing to address climate change and bequeathing them a dangerous and uncertain future. This research finds however that these young people do not blame older generations for the climate crisis and have no time for intergenerational squabbles. They lay the blame squarely at the feet of the fossil fuel industry and its enablers and believe that the strength needed to fight the climate crisis comes from all generations collaborating to challenge the hegemony of the ‘Big Oil’ and big business dominated power structure that enables the despoiling of the environment and the exploitation of peoples. They seek structural reform to deliver equitable outcomes for all; climate justice for these rangatahi is social justice. This research argues that their voices should be prioritised in the policy debates and decisions that will determine the future they will have to endure but many of the policy makers will not.