Morrison implies Greta being ‘exploited’
Adults must "respect and harness" the passion and aspiration of younger generations without exploiting their anxieties for their own agendas, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has told world leaders.
In his first address to the United Nations in New York, Mr Morrison urged older generations to mentor youngsters to "focus their minds and direct their energies" to help solve the global crises.
In a keynote speech heavy with environment themes, he warned parents, campaigners and his political opponents against an urge to "compound or, worse, facelessly exploit their anxiety for their own agendas".
Watching from the floor of the assembly were Foreign Minister, Marise Payne, her department chief Frances Adamson, Mr Morrison's chief of staff John Kunkel and national security adviser, Michelle Chan.
Also watching was the PM's wife Jenny, who was sitting in front of South Australian Labor MP Nick Champion, who is at the UN on a fellowship.
Mr Morrison's public comments came in the wake of teenage activist Greta Thunberg's address to a United Nations summit this week.
Thunberg, 16, who has attracted a global following with her stance on climate change, repeatedly chided world leaders with "how dare you?" during her impassioned speech in the US.
Speaking in New York on Tuesday ahead of his UN address, Mr Morrison warned that passionate climate change debate should not be allowed to fuel anxiety among young people.
Revealing Australia's national statement to the UN General Assembly today, the PM said young people should be encouraged to learn more about subjects such as science, technology, engineering and maths.
He argued that it was through research, innovation and enterprise that managing ecological challenges could be solved.
"I get many letters from children in Australia concerned about their future," he told the UN during world leaders' week.
"I take seriously and deeply respect their concerns and indeed welcome their passion, especially when it comes to the environment.
"And my impulse is always to respond positively and to encourage them. To provide context, perspective and hope. To focus their minds and direct their energies to practical solutions and positive behaviour that will deliver enduring results for them."
He added: "We must respect and harness the passion and aspiration of our younger generations, and we must guard against others who week to compound or, worse, facelessly exploit their anxiety for their other agendas.
"We must similarly not allow their concerns to be dismissed or diminished as this can also needlessly increase their anxiety. What parent could do otherwise.
"Our children have a right not just to their future but to their optimism."
He continued: "Above all, we must let our children, be children, let our kids be kids - let our teenagers be teenagers - while we do the work positively together to deliver the practical solutions for them and their future."
In his speech, the first as Australian PM, he called for action to tackle climate change, ocean pollution, plastic waste, and illegal fishing as the country has more than 85 per cent of the population live within 50km of the sea.
He also said solutions were needed to solve Australia's drought crisis.
Mr Morrison urged the UN to reform in the 21st century.
He said peaceful settlement of disputes in line with international law, respect for the sovereignty and independence of all states, open markets that facilitate the free flow of trade, capital and ideas.
He also said it was important to respect freedom of faith and of expression and human rights as well as combating disadvantage, discrimination and persecution based on disability, gender, religion, sexuality, age, race or ethnicity.
He said that in a "complex and contested" world, Australia rejected a view shared by some, in which many "fatalistically see a polarised world where countries feel pushed to make binary choices.
Mr Morrison again defended Australia's commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, saying authorities had "overachieved" its Kyoto emissions targets.
"Australia is taking real action on climate change and getting results," he said.
"We are successfully balancing our global responsibilities with sensible and practical policies to secure our environmental and economic future.
"Australia's internal and global critics on climate change willingly overlook or ignore our achievements, as the facts simply don't fit the narrative they wish to project about our contribution."
He added: "Australia is responsible for just 1.3 per cent of global emissions. Australia is doing our bit on climate change and we reject any suggestion to the contrary."
Earlier on Wednesday, he visited an Australian-owned recycling plant in Brooklyn, New York, which is helping recycle waste into products and profit.
He flies home later today.