OPINION

It's time our federal government put our futures before fossil fuels

Picture: Ingrid Kjelling Photography

Picture: Ingrid Kjelling Photography

Summer to me used to mean fresh air while riding in the car and playing "I spy" with music in the background, on the way to the beach.

But last summer you couldn't go two songs without constant, scary interruptions of 'watch and act' bushfire warnings. The smell of smoke was overwhelming and, sometimes, it was hard to see through the smoke haze.

I live in Bunbury in regional Western Australia. It's a small coastal paradise with nearby bushland, but we always seem to be under constant threat of bushfires, rising sea levels and mining.

To combat climate change, our city has installed seawalls and the world's first inflatable reef to stop waves crashing on the sand and destroying our coastline. Every year there are devastating bushfires that, in the past, have destroyed whole towns and ended lives.

All of this is coupled with reduced rainfall and streamflow into our groundwater resources, due to hotter and longer summers.

We have also seen native animals only found in this region added to the critically endangered list, and mining companies come in to take people's land for fracking.

I remember being about 10 years old, standing with my community to defend our land from fracking companies. It's scary to think about how they're able to come onto people's land, right into their backyards, poison it and destroy our water sources - this same land where we play sport and go to school.

As a young person, I don't get a say in who becomes our leaders; I can't vote or stand for election, so I need to find other ways to make my voice heard.

That's why I'm bringing the class action Sharma v Minister for Environment in the Federal Court with seven other young people.

This case is about stopping the climate impacts of the Vickery coal mine extension project in northern NSW.

Our federal government is still approving coal mines knowing they are fuelling the climate crisis. It is time our federal government put our futures before fossil fuels.

This case argues the environment minister has a duty of care to protect young people from these impacts.

Anyone under 18, worldwide, can join this class action, so register now.

You can also join School Strikes 4 Climate, with hundreds of actions taking place around Australia on Friday, September 25.

Bella Burgemeister, 14, is organising Bunbury's School Strike 4 Climate event on September 25 and leading the class action Sharma v Minister for Environment.