Climate change an election issue for western Sydney constituencies, says Western Sydney University

The Wentworth by-election shows that voters are willing to punish politicians for their inaction on climate change, according to Professor James Arvanitakis, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research and Graduate Studies).

“Climate change will play a significant issue in the upcoming federal election - people are increasingly frustrated. We are seeing the consequences of climate change all around us, be there weather extremes around heat, or the impact on our electricity grid, and people in western Sydney want to see action,” says Professor Arvanitakis.

Assistant Vice-Chancellor Dr Andy Marks notes that young people are being left out of conventional political decision making processes.

“While many millennials shun the major parties, political activism, through social media and networks, is on the rise. Young voters in western Sydney constituencies are not waiting for conventional politics to catch up. Climate change is one issue where they can lead,” says Dr Marks.

Dr Sebastian Pfautsch, Senior Research Fellow (Environmental Sustainability), concurs, citing long term climate data that shows that anyone born after 1985 has never lived in a world that is not warming.

“Our own research and teaching activities at Western Sydney University are now geared towards getting young people to become climate ambassadors. We are sending a powerful message to demonstrates what individuals and communities can achieve to combat climate change and its effects,” says Dr Pfautsch.

Western Sydney University students interviewed on climate change cite vested interests in the coal industry, scepticism about renewables and the complexity of the topic as key challenges. They also exemplify a growing number of young Australians taking positive steps towards a more sustainable future. This includes using more public transport, making university campuses greener and shopping at thrift shops to support recycling.

About Earth IQ

Taking a positive step in engaging and empowering millennials and their communities with the issues of a changing climate, Western Sydney University has launched a new awareness campaign Earth IQ. Through multimedia storytelling, expert commentary and activations, Earth IQ is a way of inspiring a generation to embrace more mindful and sustainable living - one carbon footprint at a time.

Find out more at or follow the conversation using #EarthIQ


6 November 2018

Isabel Wagner, Senior Media Officer