The 18-year-old climate activist planning to take on Jacinda Ardern

Video credit: Reuters Studio
Published on April 16, 2020 - Duration: 01:34s

The 18-year-old climate activist planning to take on Jacinda Ardern

The growing climate concerns surrounding Earth Day are mirrored in a call for an “environmental revolution” by an 18-year-old activist looking to take on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in New Zealand’s election this year.

Rosanna Philpott reports.

The 18-year-old climate activist planning to take on Jacinda Ardern

This is Luke Wijohn.

SOUNDBITE, (English) LUKE WIJOHN, SAYING: “I’m going to run my campaign similar to a grassroots strike." The 18-year-old climate activist from New Zealand planning to take down the country's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in this year’s general election.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) LUKE WIJOHN, SAYING: “This election I will be asking New Zealanders to continue to support my leadership.” He was elected by New Zealand’s Green Party to contest her constituency.

This is Luke’s first Green Party political meeting at his parent's home in Auckland.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) LUKE WIJOHN, SAYING: “I feel like we’ve got so far and where we’re actually lacking these days is in the politics.” He already has some prominence, known for organizing the "School Strike 4 Climate" marches in the country last year.

If this campaign is successful, he’ll become New Zealand’s youngest elected lawmaker.

But that does mean somehow unseating Jacinda Ardern in September first.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) LUKE WIJOHN, SAYING: "We see her as a centrist, in between a right-wing party that either denies or delays climate action and us, who says that actually oil drilling needs to stop now, that climate action starts now." Climate change is shaping up to be a major election issue in New Zealand.

Ardern herself is seen as a liberal, progressive, and environment-friendly leader.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) JACINDA ARDERN, SAYING: “Our world is warming, and so therefore the question for all of us is what side of history will we choose to sit on.” Parliament passed a zero-carbon bill last year and has other climate change measures in the pipeline.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) JACINDA ARDERN, SAYING: “In New Zealand we’re on the right side of history.”

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