Student author's climate change challenge

HSC student Daisy Jeffrey’s involvement in the climate change movement has been a real education for this cello-playing activist.

20 April 2020
Daisy Jeffrey with her book.
Image: "We need adults to add their voice and apply their intellect and their courage and stand with us" – Daisy Jeffrey. Credit: Hachette Australia.

School students want to be heard in the climate change debate and they want adults to take much more action to solve the crisis, according to one of Australia’s leading young climate activists.

Many young people feel they must protest publicly about climate change because of the lack of action being taken by world leaders, Conservatorium High School student Daisy Jeffrey told Secretary Mark Scott on the Every Student Podcast.

In her just-published book, On Hope, Daisy has written about her involvement in climate change action and why she and other young people are choosing hope over indifference.

But she warns that “hope is a useless little four-letter word” unless accompanied by action.

“We need adults to add their voice and apply their intellect and their courage and stand with us because unless we build this movement to include people of all ages, of all backgrounds, we are not going to get the action that we desperately need to see.”

Since she joined the School Strike for Climate movement in 2018, Daisy has spoken in front of 30,000 protestors in Sydney’s Domain, met some of the world’s top climate scientists, and attended the 2019 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Madrid where she met Swedish teenage activist Greta Thunberg.

Along the way, she has learnt the arts of diplomacy and public speaking, and about the machinations of international politics.

“We thought our generation would be the first to be really affected by climate change,” Daisy said.

“But we are seeing current generations across Australia and the globe experiencing a rapidly changing climate. We are thinking about the kind of world we want to live in and what kind of world we want to leave for our kids.

She recognises the importance of balancing the need for urgent climate action with climate justice, thanks in part to the stories her grandfather told her about his years as a coalminer.

“When he was made redundant his experience, his identity, suddenly meant nothing,” she said.

“To be still talking about something he hadn’t done for over 30 years really spoke to me about how important it was to him.”

As the world moves away from fossil fuels to renewable energy, it must look after the workers who lose their jobs in traditional industries, she said.

Daisy credits her education for what she has achieved in the movement so far.

“I wouldn’t be where I am without the [Department of Education’s] Arts Unit, without the lessons in ensemble playing and without the incredible tutelage that I had the great opportunity to receive,” she said.

“There are teachers who inspire me by encouraging me to push higher. We are really lucky to have small classes at the Con, which allow teachers to spend more time with the individual student.”

Listen to the full episode now:

On Hope by Daisy Jeffrey is published by Hatchette Australia.

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