Greta At 15 In Front Of Swedish Parliament Greta At 15 In Front Of Swedish Parliament

Can We Depend on Young People To Fight Climate Change

In a world with a swiftly rising youth population, could young people be the key to fighting climate change?

We live in a world full of young people who have the time, energy, and talents to make a difference, but they often struggle to realise their full potential. These are crisis-ridden times, marked by landslides, droughts, floods, and undiscovered diseases, among other climate-related effects.

Young people leading a climate strike
(Young people leading a climate strike. Photo by Julian Meehan on Climate Home News)

But can we rely on youth, and if so, how, why, and when should we start?

To be honest, having a lot of experience is not a requirement to tackle the effects of climate change, which is of course a pressing issue that we must address in the present day. This is because there is a conflict between environmental preservation and development, and we have seen a lot of young people taking the initiative to make a positive change with passion.

I will begin with Wangari Maathai, a social, political, and environmental activist from Kenya. She started the Green Belt Movement, a non-governmental organisation devoted to environmental conservation, women’s rights, and tree planting. She was the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004.

Wangari Maathai holding a sapling
(Wangari Maathai holding a sapling – Sierra Club)

She persuaded the United Nations to start a program that has resulted in the planting of 11 billion trees worldwide and inspired Kenyans, especially women, to plant more than 30 million trees. Through the sale of seedlings for reforestation, her tree-planting effort helped over 900,000 Kenyan women. 

You may have already heard of Greta Thunberg, who began her climate activism by staging a solo protest outside the Swedish Parliament on August 20, 2018, calling for the declaration of a climate emergency. Since then, her efforts have inspired a significant number of young people around the world to become involved in environmental concerns. 

Her “school strike for the climate” has grown into a global movement, drawing over 10 million people to the streets worldwide to demand action on climate change. At the time Greta Thunberg became well-known, concern over climate change was at a record high in the United States and around the world. Since then, a lot has changed. We have seen banks like Barclays Bank disinvest in fossil fuels after a decade of profit.

Greta outside the Swedish Parliament
(Greta outside the Swedish Parliament (Photo: Adam Johansson on We Don’t Have Time)

We have also seen multinational companies from the west, like Shell, promising to exit their historical source of oil, like Nigeria, forever.

In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others,” capturing the core of volunteerism. It’s time to take action now.

We possess the knowledge and skills necessary to bring about change. It is a call to action for us to raise our spirits and safeguard not only our own lives but also the lives of others affected by climate-related catastrophes. For instance, the floods displaced over 33 million people in Pakistan in 2022 and 4 million people in Nigeria, and there have been cases where countries had to declare a climate emergency following the loss of numerous lives due to floods. As we witnessed last year, Malawi lost over 438 people in two nights.

So giving back to the community is a commitment that transcends moral principles. It’s a demonstration of the necessity of giving ourselves hope.

Our humanity as Earth Volunteers is characterised by our giving back. Volunteering is our way of giving back to those who have helped each of us along the road in life and giving back to the Earth which sustains us. This blog serves as an invitation to participate with us in our group effort to have a positive influence.

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