Three young students from Hautlieu upstaged the Editor of the Jersey Evening Post, the CEO of Jersey Electricity and the Minister for the Environment with impassioned speeches on climate change at the ecoJersey launch reception held in St Helier Parish Hall Assembly Rooms.
Gemma Newman, Hamish Hay and Tristan Burns were last to address an audience of around 120 that included the Lt Governor Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton, Ministers, States Members and officials, representatives of a multitude of environmental groups, business leaders and farmers.
They had all gathered to mark the launch of the JEP’s environmental awareness raising campaign ecoJersey of which Jersey Electricity is a launch partner and sponsor of last night’s event.
EcoJersey includes a free, quarterly publication dedicated to local environmental issues and countryside and coastal clean-up days. A percentage of funds raised by the launch partners’ support will also be given to voluntary environmental groups.
JEP editor Andy Sibcy said: ‘You are here because you care about the environment. But more than that, as politicians, business leaders, citizen activists and members of various community and environmental organisations, you have the ability and the tools to spearhead a new movement for positive change.
‘We have also invited you here tonight so that you can meet and talk to each other. So many of you in your various fields are already doing excellent work, but I think we could all agree that in working more closely together, in sharing concerns and building solutions together, we stand a far better chance of succeeding.’
In his speech, JE CEO Chris Ambler said: ‘EcoJersey brings the environment back to the forefront of everyone’s consciences and brings together those who can influence change for the better.
‘As the Island’s leading energy supplier, we have a huge responsibility in playing our part. We invest much resource in mitigating the environmental impact of our business activities. But the biggest contribution we have made to improving the environment is from supplying clean, low carbon electricity to all Islanders and helping them to use it efficiently.
‘With an electricity system that is virtually completely decarbonised, the only way the Island can further decarbonise is to create energy solutions that encourage Islanders to switch away from the use of fossil fuels to electric alternatives.
‘Our ambition at Jersey Electricity is to help inspire a ‘zero carbon’ island that is connected, digitally and smart, an island that applies the best technologies, including local renewables, electrical storage, electric transportation and energy efficiency.
‘This is an exciting future – if we work together, a zero carbon future could well be within reach for Jersey.’
The three students warned of the consequences of inaction. Hamish Hay highlighted raising sea levels, saying: ‘We have a population over 150,000. Our land should be our biggest worry, with the rising sea levels it has cost us £10m just in repairs to the sea wall. Increased sea levels will result in more instances of extreme events over topping sea defences. If we can all make the push to lowering our carbon dioxide output then we can limit the effects of global warming and save not only our world but our future as humans.’
Tristan Burns said: ‘Our planet is dying. Our planet is drowning. Our planet is boiling. The purpose of our recent protests is to force the government into action. To force the government to take climate change more seriously. To force the government to listen to the voice of the future. Climate change is an issue for the future, we are the future, climate change is our problem.’
Gemma Newman concluded: ‘I’ve come here this evening to kick start our island into sustainable environmental change. We are here to emphasise how it is imperative for our voices to be heard. Right now, I am proud that an initiative such as ecoJersey has been established. Tonight, is bringing together the people who have the ability and hopefully the commitment to make sure there is infrastructure in place for my generation and generations beyond. So, we can create a community that uses plastic sustainably, cares for the planet and promotes people to live their lives with environmental considerations. It’s time to take action.’