Loving the Great Barrier Reef with Liv Metter

Victorian AYCC team at Climate March

Liv Metter loves the Great Barrier Reef. As a young environmentalist and member of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC), she is passionate about ensuring Australians truly understand the imminent threats to the Reef’s survival. Although Liv is close to graduating with an arts degree majoring in human rights, she has taken this year off to dedicate herself fully to the fight against climate change.

She, along with a whole host of others, will be giving up life’s little indulgences, to raise money for the AYCC’s new campaign ‘For the Love of the Reef’ which begins on Monday (which also happens to be Liv’s birthday!). Here, Liv talks about her involvement in the climate change movement, her personal fundraising efforts for the Reef (with her team- ‘Charlie and the Fundraising Factory!’) and shares her thoughts on what all Australians should know about one of our most iconic natural wonders.

I have always been concerned about social justice issues, but it wasn’t until I got to university that I began to realise the link between social justice and climate change.

Climate change is an issue that is going to affect everyone but it is already affecting those who are most vulnerable. Understanding that really sparked my motivation to work toward a more just and sustainable future. My passion for this issue has grown steadily, so I have taken a hiatus from study to commit myself to the climate fight with the AYCC. I am still working casual shifts but don’t expect to go back to uni anytime soon. (don’t tell my parents!…)

In 2009, as a high school student, I went to a national summit in Sydney called ‘Powershift’ and was completely blown away.

The summit went for three days and was full of inspirational speakers, educational workshops and even a flashmob at the Opera House. It was here that my mind was opened to the concept of climate change. I came back home with a new found feeling that I can only describe as a mix of fear, hope and inspiration.

I began volunteering with the AYCC and over the years have become more experienced, confident and knowledgeable. I’ve had different leadership roles in the organisation and have been the Schools Coordinator and the Volunteer Support Coordinator.

Liv speaking at an event

Liv speaking at an AYCC event.

I am now one of the Victorian State Coordinators of the AYCC.

I’ve been in this role for about six months and work alongside my best buddy Erica. What I love most about it is the opportunity to oversee what’s happening in a whole state, working closely with the national staff team and Victorian volunteers. I now get to oversee a whole variety of groups that I once volunteered in- to make sure that everyone is happy, confident and carrying out the campaign effectively.

The role involves a lot of strategic thinking, planning, training volunteers, facilitating meetings and coordinating actions and events. I have gained so many skills I would not have learnt anywhere else and I am so grateful to the AYCC for the experience. I hope that I’ve been able to give back to the Victorian volunteers and to the climate change movement more broadly.

Young people have an incredibly strong voice in the climate change fight and AYCC is a place for that voice to be heard.

We are creative, dynamic and passionate. Whilst we are fighting for those who are already affected by climate change, we also recognise that our future and that of our children, will be in jeopardy if we don’t change our ways. We can also tap into new forms of communication and can sometimes be a little bit cheeky when confronting power holders. We have the time and creativity to get things done in new and positive ways.

I’m about to give up coffee, beer and chocolate for the ‘For the Love of the Reef’ campaign.

The campaign is a fundraising challenge where we ask people to give up something they love between May 18-31, to raise money for and awareness of the Reef. We believe stopping the construction of the world’s largest coal port right near the Reef is critical. We are up against some pretty powerful organisations so our campaign needs a little extra funding to make a difference.

All the money raised will go to supplying resources and training volunteers on the ground to help roll out the campaign. The AYCC is a deductible gift recipient charity so all donations over $2 are tax deductible!

The things I’d like people to know about the Great Barrier Reef are that…

It is currently under threat from coal port expansion.

The Reef is already sick from ocean acidification and a changing climate. If plans to expand coal ports go ahead, it could be catastrophic. A major part of this is because of dredging. Dredging involves digging up the sea floor in shallow waters, so that ships can travel through. The process unfortunately stirs the ocean floor, allowing sediment to rise and cloud the water. The cloudy water limits the amount of sunshine coming through which means that coral can’t photosynthesise and the Reef begins to deteriorate. Dredging would be a necessary part of this coal port expansion and the estimated ship traffic would be around 7000 ships a year.

There’s a serious reason why we are asking people to give up coffee, chocolate and beer.

Food security is a major issue related to climate change. It will have devastating effects on agricultural communities around the world. Climate change is already having an impact on the things we love- like coffee beans and cocoa. That’s why we’re saying to people- ‘if you love the Reef, then join us and go without something you love, that will be affected by climate change.’

We need to stop investments coming from Australian banks.

If you are with one of the major four banks in Australia or one of their subsidiary branches, there is a link to Reef destruction. None of these Australian banks have ruled out funding the risky coal port project. This is shameful. Not only is the Reef a national icon, it is also home to thousands of species of marine life and provides 60,000 jobs in the tourism industry. We have seen eleven major international banks rule out funding this project and we are now calling on Australian banks to follow suit. That’s why we’re also running the ‘Dump My Bank’ campaign that calls on Australian banks to simply back away from this project.

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You can find out more about the ‘For the Love of the Reef’ campaign, make a donation and sponsor a participant on their website.

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