Lucy Lawless
Powershift NZ-Pacific 2012 Youth Climate Summit
7 December 2012  Keynote Speaker

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Lucy Lawless's Keynote Speech to Powershift - Auckland 7/12/12

Transcript by: Barbara Davies

(Barbara's Note: I couldn't make out some parts of the audio track - for a variety of reasons - so I've denoted those missing bits with [ ].)

Lucy: Hi, guys, [Maori greeting?]
You know I found those speeches really moving and yet I sat on my arse and didn't say anything. So I reckon we should just agree not to do that anymore. Somebody says something that really you think is important, speak up, testify.

So, the youth of today. Who's got a greater investment in the future than you, except maybe the kid that was just born in National Woman's hospital, or Invercargill, or wherever? And who am I to stand in front of you? Just an actress - I'm constantly reminded of that. But I'm also a global citizen, and to me it's so important to make sure that you kids get a fair shake. And I am slightly ashamed that it's been left to you, to be honest.

So, in February as you were told, I and some Greenpeace activists went and occupied a Shell oilrig that was heading up to the Arctic, which as you know is very fragile because of Climate Change. And Shell and other countries' profiteers were going up to dig up more of the stuff that caused the problem in the first place. And after that I was invited to go along with Kumi Naidoo and Richard Branson at the UN Conference on sustainable development where I learned that despite incontrovertible scientific evidence about the dangers of burning more fossil fuels, continuing to burn fossil fuels, and the need to tackle it now rather than later, there was a world of discord about the rate of change required or even the need for change, as improbable as that sounds. [... proportion ... failure?].

So no wealth was created. It was a zero sum game. And then we learned how to do things better. So given the selection of, you know, choosing to look after your own offspring, we joined together with others and we learned how to share resources and divide up the land so that we would create more wealth for our offspring, collectively we'd have a better chance of survival, so we provided a safe environment in which to raise our offspring. And eventually complex societies formed requiring govt., economy, infrastructure, and taxes, all of which, of course, is to provide a safer environment in a more complex world to raise our offspring.

People that are gifted in numeracy we might become bean counters. And some of the most important decision makers in the world are bean counters, but some things are not counted on their ledgers. So orang-utans, narwhals, coral atolls, rain forests - these things do not get a vote. So we are finding that we have to do it for them. And despite repeated warnings, clean water is only just now making it onto the endangered list.

To be ignorant means that you have knowledge but are choosing to ignore it. Now my generation was in their twenties when the internet came into being. So we are fully young enough to be fully conversant with information technology. You have no excuse to remain ignorant.

So now my generation is coming to power and you must hold our feet to the fire to do what we know is right. Because fossil fuels, they were the answer to a 19th century problem, but now in the 21st century not only are they not the answer, they are the problem.

So this is a little story from only about a year ago. My brother tried to warn me off my liking for Greenpeace, and he [ ] that the green movement was really just a hippy conspiracy to sell more green product. What do hippies buy? Joss sticks? Do you know hippies? They're as poor as church mice! But in fact there isn't a single registered climate agency in the World who denies the anthropogenic nature of Climate Change and the need to tackle it now not later. As I said to my taxi driver: Who are you going to believe: Leighton Smith or NASA?

This is a famous Confucian, Sun Tzu. [1800 ... ] before Machiavelli, Sun Tzu wrote the Art of War. And I don't think I really would have liked Sun Tzu and his philosophies very much, but in this case he's absolutely right, 'cause the enemy is Climate Change and we have to adapt - if we do not turn to face this, it will slug us from behind.

It's in our best interests that we adapt our energy sources, our homes, and our businesses. For example, if our farmers move towards carbon neutrality, as I am assured by experts is possible, it will result in cleaner waterways, healthier soils, and a premium product that the world craves. It's really important that we support our farmers as they evolve, hopefully, evolve to healthier practices, because everything else, as you'll see [ ] is piggybacked upon our clean, green land, which incidentally taxpayers pay for. I don't know how many tens of millions of dollars that cost to develop that land, it's a great deal more than [ ] Taxpayers own that ground so it's really appalling that any govt. would want to erode [ ] That's not fair. We're all participating as kids today we do not hold our [ ] accountable therefore we are accountable.

Now, I've always been somebody who feels a great deal, and it really motivates me, but I find it extremely important to get educated. And I commend you guys for being here today, who are far ahead of me on this. It enables me to listen better. It's all good criticism about not getting off track when people tell me try to.... first thing they'll say is, they'll try to point out what a hypocrite you are, especially about me. I travel - a great deal less than I used to, but I do travel. I tank up my Prius. Embarrassingly. I do. Not very often, but I do. Gotta absorb the criticism and say: even it it's true what you say about me, it doesn't make Climate Change less real. My hypocrisy doesn't make your children more safe.

And so you mustn't think that our economy is our enemy, because it is how we sustain a safe environment for our offspring. And as New Zealanders we need to remind our govt. that we need to be responsible global citizens, because what happens in the Arctic doesn't stay in the Arctic. We're all connected. We need those people in Tokelau, in Kiribas, and Tonga, whose islands are shrinking year by year. We need them to know that we are on their side. So thank you so much for coming.

Oh. The 'strange bedfellows'. The minute you start to think of yourself as a National person, or a Labour person, or a Green person, you cease to be a fully human thinking person. So we're all in this together and you never know where your next great collaborators will come from. It might be somebody from a completely different [ ] from you, but we have to be ready to listen, that's all, and give them room to change their minds too.

Thank you so much for having me.





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