'We all need to take action': How 2040 is inspiring a generation of enviro warriors

Photo: 2040
Photo: 2040 

"Who has a question?" filmmaker Damon Gameau has spent the last 45 minutes telling the students of Kegworth Public School, in Sydney's Inner West, all about his new documentary, 2040

It turns out that everyone has a question. Damon smiles as he scans the room of waving arms before picking out a kid to start with. 

"Can we store solar power so that we can use it even when the sun isn't shining?" asks Ginger, a year 5 student. "Excellent question," Damon responds, before answering. 

It's the first in a long line of excellent questions. It turns out that the kids get it – maybe more than the rest of us. 

2040 is all about climate change. But unlike a lot of the media we've seen, 2040 predicts the future through a lens of optimism; what will the future look like if we adopt the climate change solutions we already have in place? 

To answer that question, Damon, who received critical acclaim for his documentary That Sugar Film, travelled to 17 countries around the world to meet with the people who are already taking positive action. Now, ahead of the documentary's official launch on the 23rd May, Damon is travelling the country to talk to schoolchildren about how they can get involved. 

Photo: Cat Rodie

Photo: Cat Rodie

2040 isn't exclusively for kids, but it's definitely appropriate for younger audiences. In fact, Damon's initial motivation in making it was to create a visual letter for his daughter Velvet (now five). It's not a surprise then, to find he is passionate about engaging children in his message. "It's their future," he says.  

"It's really important to instil hope in them and to know that there are humans that care, deeply about the future and they're rolling up their sleeves and getting on with it." 


The documentary, which took Damon three years to make, shows us a bright, and green, future. He doesn't shy away from the seriousness of climate change, but pushes the idea that there are lots of exciting, and feasible, solutions.  

"Its important to diagnose what's going on, but we need to be careful with our language and our images, because they can frighten children and shut them down," Damon explains. 

"There are so many exciting solutions that will give them [kids], and every other living thing on the planet, a much better future. So we've just got to really push that narrative," he adds. 

The kids really engage with the tone of 2040. "I think it's really good that the [doco] doesn't look at the downside of climate change – it looks on the bright side," says 10-year-old Asher. 

Charly, also 10, agrees. "I think that the film will really inspire people to help the environment," she says. 


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One of the solutions that Damon presents to Kegworth is the driverless car. It's an idea that fascinates the kids who ask question after question about the concept and it's role in reducing carbon emissions. Gustav, a year 5 student, says that it would be "scary and exciting" to travel in a driverless car. 

The kids were also inspired by solar power and the idea that in the future, micro networks could allow communities to share power – something that is already happening in Bangladesh. Hudson, another year 5 student, was keen. "In the future we can all share solar power," he tells me, after the presentation. 

Kegworth has done a great job in creating a buzz around environmental issues. Students, Ioana, Olivia, Dexter and Percy tell me that the school have already set up an enviro-bank to recycle plastic bottles, a worm farm that recycles food scraps from lunch boxes and a Boomerang Bag scheme to reduce the number of plastic bags coming into the school. They even have bee hotels. 

On top of this, students are raising money to buy a dishwasher for the school canteen. "A lot of the food comes in plastic containers, it gets chucked out and thrown in land-fill. If we had a dishwasher we could get reusable containers," explains Ruby.  

These kids are pretty fired up, and if Damon gets his way, the rest of Australia will soon follow suit. 

"We all need to take action to save the planet," says Sarah. "Otherwise we won't even have a planet in the future." 

2040 will screen nationwide in cinemas from May 23 - with free tickets available to school-aged students on opening weekend at Palace Cinema locations around the country.

Find out more at whatsyour2040.com or follow 2040 on Facebook or Instagram.