“My generation and future generation’s lives are on the line”: Speech by Varsha Yajman

Thank you,

Like the previous speakers I will also deliver this speech in English and then there will be a German translation.

My name is Varsha, I am 17 years old and an organiser for School Strike for Climate Australia. Since I was born, CO2 has risen from around 313 ppm to 407 ppm. It’s scary to know that without urgent emission reductions, we could reach a point of no return in just 10 years – when I will be 27. 

Australia has suffered an unprecedented bushfire crisis this summer.  We have faced walls of flames over 70 metres high. Our biggest cities have been blanketed in hazardous smoke, 35 people have died, over 2000 homes have been turned into ash and more than a billion animals have been killed. This is not normal. This is climate change hurting us now. And we know the number one cause of this climate crisis is the mining and burning of coal.

In the face of such catastrophic climate impacts, we expect companies like yours to show leadership and play an important role in the transition away from fossil fuels. Instead, in December 2019, in the midst of the worst bushfire season ever recorded in Australia, Siemens decided to sign a contract with Adani to provide critical signalling work to the Carmichael rail line and enable the construction of Australia’s biggest coal mine. This coal mine will open up the Galilee Basin, one of the largest, untapped coal basins in the world.

Joe Kaeser’s decision to work with Adani is a slap in the face to all the people who have lost their houses, their livelihoods, and their lives because of the extreme weather events that are becoming more common, more intense and more catastrophic than ever before.

Siemens boasts it is the first industrial company to commit to carbon neutrality by 2030. Does that include your scope 3 emissions? If not, it is meaningless.

You could go carbon neutral tomorrow, but if you keep helping other companies massively increase carbon emissions, it is not not going to make any difference.

We must urgently reduce carbon emissions globally in order to avoid the worst impacts of global warming. Is your company going to be part of the problem or the solution? Working with Adani to open one of the world’s biggest untapped thermal coal reserves means you are contributing to the problem. You have the power to change that.

I am 17. I should not have to come all the way to Germany to ensure you listen to the concerns of young people. But I have to because I feel I have no other choice. My generation and future generation’s lives are on the line. Joe Kaeser, you have attempted to justify your decision with incorrect information and we cannot let that stand. Australians overwhelmingly oppose the Adani Carmichael mine and to claim otherwise is clearly deceitful. Providing the rail signalling for what will be Australia’s largest coal mine will have catastrophic  consequences. That coal needs to be left in the ground.

Siemens’ reputation as well as your name and your legacy, Joe Kaeser, will forever be tarnished if you continue with this endeavour. Is this what you wish to be remembered for?

The future safety of my generation will be determined by the decisions that companies like Siemens make today. To Mr Kaeser and the Siemens board, I ask that you cancel your contract with Adani or leave the first chance you get. Our lives depend on it.

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