Generation Zero

Where: Wellington, NZ

When: I met Nina and Paul in Jan 2015. Generation Zero began in 2011 after conversations between New Zealand Youth Delegation members at the Cancun Climate Change Conference in 2010.

Who: Paul Young, Sudhvir Singh and Nina Atkinson. Nina is the current National Campaign Director. Paul is one of the original founders and the Policy and Research Lead. Sudhvir is on the board and is the director of the Auckland regional team. There are around 50 regular volunteers (making up the regional core teams) with up to 200 people volunteering at the height of campaigns. It is entirely volunteer run. They have a supporter mailing list of 15000.

What: Generation Zero is a youth-led organisation campaigning to take action on climate change. Their current campaigns relate to sustainable transport and the establishment of a national climate change policy.

Why: The original founders, who were at the 2010 United Nations climate change negotiations in Cancun, felt a youth movement on climate change was lacking in New Zealand, and after the failures of the Copenhagen negotiations in 2009, they felt their attention might be better focused in New Zealand itself.

Generation Zero exists to provide solutions for New Zealand to cut carbon pollution through smarter transport, liveable cities and independence from fossil fuels. Their vision is of a New Zealand in which “We can power our homes, our industries and our economy with clean safe energy. We can build more liveable cities with greater housing and transport choices to attract the best and brightest to New Zealand. We can move beyond fossil fuels and create a safer and healthier nation by doing so.”

Impacts/success: In the run up to the national elections in 2014, five parties committed in part or in whole to a national climate change policy (which was thanks to the work of Generation Zero alongside lots of other organisations). In Auckland, a number of councillors committed to the plans put forward in GenZero’s Congestion Free Network in the local elections in 2013. (We’ve also had local successes with cycle and bus lanes).

Further info:

Personal reflections: Since it’s beginnings almost 4 years ago, GenZero is now a known entity amongst MPs and in national parliament in New Zealand, as well as in the media, which is testament to the high visibility of their campaigns and actions. They are currently going through a big reflection process to review progress and determine their future direction so it will be interesting to see where that leads them!


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