“People in the Kmart, people in the local pub, they don’t care about the Paris agreement, it means nothing to them, it has no purpose” – Barnaby Joyce.

The sour-faced former deputy-PM was taking aim at old-mate Malc’s NEG (National Energy Guarantee) program earlier this week. The NEG promises to deliver reliable and budget-friendly energy to the public, whilst simultaneously satisfying the pledges Australia made as part of the 2015 Paris agreement; to reduce emissions and practice sustainable energy usage. It is obvious, by his clumsy commentary, that Barnaby believes Australians to be more concerned with their pub-lunch parmis and purchasing sequinned Kmart cushions, than they are with combating climate change. Unlike the short-sighted and ignorant Barnaby, I choose to believe that Australians have an appreciation for what the Paris agreement is trying to do for the future of our planet. That Australians understand the importance of taking hurried steps towards reducing emissions. That we can feel just as strongly about the need to protect the environment, as we do about thongs being appropriate footwear for any and all occasions.

The determination of Australians to action sustainable change is evident in everyday life. This week during a visit to my local Woolies, every customer, at every check out, had brought their own reusable bags. At the corner café, a handful of customers that walked in after I’d ordered, handed the barista Keep Cups (and received 20c off their coffee orders). My housemate is even doing her small bit to reduce energy emissions – turning off the power switch at the wall after she’s finished using the kettle, or is leaving the room. We are already proving Barnaby wrong, just through everyday execution of small, environmentally-mindful practices. As Australians, we live without the need to wear facemasks to keep smog and air pollutants out of our lungs, without the need to clear plastic off the sand just to find a spot on the beach. We are fortunate to live such a pristine and healthy environment, and most of us, knowing this already, would like to keep it that way. So yes, Barnaby, I do care about snagging myself a deal at Kmart, and sure, I enjoy a pint at the pub as much as the next person. I also care about doing my bit to help the planet, to ensure future generations can appreciate it the way I’ve come to. The Paris agreement is much more than just a political ploy, it is not something that Australia should be able to elect into or out of. It is a promise, one of very few that the world’s governments have made together, for the future wellbeing of the environment. The Paris agreement means something, it has purpose, and I think you’ll find, Barnaby, that the Australians in pubs and Kmarts nationwide, are with me on that.

Maddison Howard