The City of Sydney launched its C40 Women4Climate Mentorship Program in May, with Mayor Clover Moore stating “Climate action is the City of Sydney’s top priority”, as reflected in the City’s 2030 Strategy and Climate Emergency declaration.
The Global Climate Strike took place on 20 September. The Sydney program’s mentees shared their vision for each of their projects, and their view on climate activism in the run up to the strike. Now two of their newest members reflect on their visions, projects and experience of the climate strike.
The women of Sydney C40 Women4Climate Mentorship Program.
We welcome two visions from the newest members of our Sydney Women4Climate cohort: Chloë Shaw and Karinne Taylor. Their new voices represent the continued progress that women for climate are making in this space. One week on from the climate strike the mentees are even more committed to riding the wave of intent from the community and delivering on the changes required to address this climate emergency.
Chloë Shaw is a Director at DefyDesign, a plastics-recycling mini-factory, and a Sustainability Engagement Coordinator at the City of Sydney.
There is so much value in plastic waste that ends up in landfills; effort, resources and dollars. The truth is that even though plastic is put in the recycling bin it is not always recycled. In Australia there is no market for the recycled end-product. I want Australia to be a country where the circular economy is the norm. It is my vision that companies think about recycled plastic ahead of virgin plastic and that consumers understand what they can do to facilitate the circular economy. I believe that requires reform from major suppliers and manufacturers but it also requires consumers to use plastic responsibly and understand how value in the material is captured.
My project is diversion of plastic from landfill using education and consumer-driven demand. We are told again and again that people care about climate change, they care about waste reduction, they want to do something about it but they just don’t know how. It is my project to deliver campaigns that collapse the distance between an action and its outcome. In particular I will use demonstrations to show what happens “behind the scenes” to bring to life the importance of source separation, responsible recycling and the circular economy. I also want to stimulate the recycled plastic economy in Australia using a consumer-pull model. My project complements my vision for Australia in creating an economy where it will be considered unusual to buy virgin plastic.
Reflections on the Climate Strike
It was fantastic to be a part of the climate strike on Friday. I think the best part for me was because we all came together to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. We felt like a community. We felt connected. It wasn’t just about the strike on the day, but the run up to the strike that I think was so powerful. The strike gave me an excuse to talk about climate change with people without it feeling forced, it was permissible for people to be interested in an event. I had so much fun thinking of a sign, creating them with colleagues and marching with other people for a cause we all cared about. Increased saliency around climate change was a really exciting outcome. I see that even Chris Hemsworth has posted Greta’s speech on his personal Instagram- that will have landed a lot of reach! Getting widespread celebrity endorsement will be a game changer. It was encouraging to see that there were people of all ages there on Friday. There was an older couple with a sign that read “Sorry, we didn’t know what we were doing, how can we help now?”. It really was an event to bridge all sorts of gaps; age, race, nationality, gender… all I can say is when is the next one?
Before jumping into the strike “If not now, then when? If not us, who?”
Karinne Taylor is the manager of NABERS Waste.
My vision is that all cities in Australia capture the valuable resources that we currently throw into landfill, ensuring those resources continue to loop through our supply chains. Every resource we throw away is a resource with embodied energy and water from its production which is lost. In particular I want to see organics collections as standard across our cities, as this is the biggest contributor to climate change emissions from the waste sector, and also represents a loss of valuable nutrients that we could use to regenerate our soils and improve carbon sequestration.
I am the manager of the NABERS Waste rating, an independent method to benchmark the resource recovery performance of office buildings in Australia. We launched the method last year, and what we have found is buildings that don’t have a dedicated organics collection will not achieve a high rating under our system. NABERS has driven change in the energy efficiency of the built environment in Australia, and I want to use that platform to drive change in its resource recovery performance as well. My project is to work with the property sector to accelerate uptake of the rating so buildings are incentivised to change their practices, and so we can plan for dedicated organics processing through better data. I want to also investigate a way to expand the NABERS waste method beyond office buildings, so we can more rapidly drive the transition to a circular economy.
Reflections on the Climate Strike
The size of the crowd in Sydney’s Domain astounded me - so many people dedicating their time to ensure our concerns about a rapidly warming climate were heard loud and clear. Daisy Jeffrey’s speech was clear and strong. I loved how passionate she was about the challenge we face. The demands were clear, and simple, and I support all three, but was especially cheered by the call for a just transition.
I’ve been working in sustainability and climate change related programs for most of my career and sometimes it can be a lonely task as you believe you are in a small part of society fighting for change.
The humour of the posters, the warmth of the crowd, the camaraderie as we walked through the streets all boosted my spirits and means I can get on with this important work.
If not you, then who? If not now, then when?