Can youth save our Earth?
“I want you to feel as the house is on fire because it is.” – Greta Thunberg
In this generation, youth literacy is the highest in comparison to previous generations. As per data from UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund), the youth literacy rate has increased from 83 to 91% over the past two decades. They understand the seriousness and importance of Climate Change and are also coming up with interesting solutions. As per the World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY), youth participation and involvement in environment preservation requires a comprehensive approach. Youth is ready to engage in platforms related to the conservation of the environment at the local, national and international levels and prove to be an asset in this battle against climate change.
Young Climate Change Activists :
- Greta Thunberg (Sweden) :
Youngest Time Person of the Year in 2019.
It all started when she watched a documentary on climate change in school. She promised herself that she would do everything that she could to make a difference.
In August 2019 at the age of 15, she started striking outside the Swedish Parliament to call for stronger action on climate change. She addressed the UN Climate Change Conference in 2018 and in March 2019 around 1.6 million students in 133 countries participated in climate strike inspired by her.
She and her family members have been following a sustainable lifestyle and encouraging others to do the same. She sailed to North America to attend the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit, where she delivered a speech in which she exclaimed ‘How dare You’– questioning the world leaders how can they continuously let the earth be destroyed.
Greta’s commitment to follow a sustainable lifestyle – avoiding flight travel. She has also invented the term ‘flygskam (flight shaming)’ to encourage sustainable travel. This has resulted in a 12% decrease in the number of domestic flights in Germany in November 2019 compared to the same month the previous year, with flights to other European countries falling by 1.9%.
She also spoke at the World Economic Forum (WEF) Summit 2020 in Davos, Switzerland. She has been included in the list of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women (2019) and has been nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize (2019 & 2020).
- Autumn Peltier (Canada) :
Fifteen years old from Wikwemikong First Nation on Manitoulin Island in Northern Ontario, Canada. She has been advocating for clean water since she was eight. She began her activism by speaking for clean water at community events.
In 2015, she attended the Children’s Climate Conference in Sweden. In 2016, she confronted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about the water crisis in Canada at the Assembly of First Nations’ annual winter meeting.
She has been also named the Chief Water Commissioner of the Anishinabek Nation, one of the oldest political organizations for 40 member First Nations across Ontario.
- Licypriya Kangujam (India) :
Not many eight-year-olds can say they have protested outside the parliament house of the world’s largest democracy. But that is exactly what Licypriya Kangujam did. Dropping out of her school in Bhubaneswar at the age of seven in February 2019, Kangujam traveled to New Delhi and stood outside the Parliament House. In July the same year, she spent a week doing the same holding a sign that read, “Dear Mr. Modi & MPs, PASS THE CLIMATE CHANGE LAW! ACT NOW!”
She wants that India should stop importing coal and instead invest the money in producing renewable energy, which is cheaper ( and getting cheaper constantly ) and is going to provide employment to millions of youth. Compulsory inclusion of climate change as a subject in our school curriculum. Make in mandatory to plant 10 trees per student across India to pass their final exams.
To enact a complete ban on fossil fuel-run vehicles by 2030 in order to cut carbon emissions, and replace them with solar and electric vehicles; enable a strict law to stop cutting down of trees; allow no new buildings to be built if there’s no space to grow minimum 20-30 trees; and control of greenhouse gases.
She is going to launch an initiative called ‘Green Olympics’ (net-zero carbon emissions) during the Tokyo Olympics Games 2020.
- Xiuhtezcatl Martinez (USA) :
He started speaking about the environment at the age of 6, now he is a 19-year old indigenous activist and musician. He is also the youth director of Earth Guardians, an organization that trains youth across the world to use civic engagement and the arts to help solve environmental issues.
As a hip-hop artist, he often uses music to convey powerful environmental messages. He is also not afraid to confront the government head-on, as he was one of the 21 plaintiffs that sued the federal government for their lack of action on climate change.
It is clear that this generation’s youth is actually taking steps to solve the issue of climate change. They have revolutionized the fight against climate change with their skills and innovative ideas. Now, it is the duty of government and various national and international organizations to provide them with the necessary resources and support them wherever needed.
“Let the children be what they want to be, and not what you want them to be. Let them have this green heart and help the environment, instead of you trying to control them to go back to not caring for the climate.”
Lilly, 10, February 2019
The youth is really innovative and if they have the right support from the authorities, there is no doubt that they can make a huge impact in battle. We should be happy about the fact that more than half of the world population is young (below 30 years of age) and now we need to make sure that they are given the right environment so that they can act as the torchbearers for the people of this world and make the future better.