Young people across the world are angry, and it’s not hard to see why. Being both the generation who have contributed to the global climate crisis the least, and yet, who have the most to lose, they have been the driving force behind the seemingly sudden interest in our planet’s wellbeing in recent years. From protests to plastic reduction to conversations with parliament, here’s what the younger generation are doing to tackle climate change.
Making their voices heard around the world
At the end of last year, the UK saw environmental activist group Extinction Rebellion protest across the capital, and while many found this inappropriate (the protests targeted the working class Londoner rather than the big corporations causing much of the environmental chaos) it was hard to ignore the sentiment behind it: like it or not, some drastic changes need to be made.
At the heart of Extinction Rebellion’s demands are government transparency on the causes and consequences of climate change, and policies put in place to reduce greenhouse emissions to zero by 2025. On Earth Day this year (April 22nd), over 1,000 protesters were arrested in London, and this certainly got the attention of the mainstream media around the world. With young people making up a large portion of this activist community, it’s clear that extreme measures are being taken to get more eyes on this crisis at any cost.
Sacrificing their education
Aside from the more controversial activism, there are also peaceful protests happening the world over, and one of the most notable was started by a sixteen year old - age is simply a number when it comes to passion and a powerful message.
In March of this year, 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, a Swedish climate activist, was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Thunberg has helped change a lot despite her years, and regularly protests the Swedish parliament requesting that they reduce carbon emissions in line with the Paris climate agreement. She spends every Friday on strike from school, lobbying outside the parliament building in Stockholm.
Her determination has inspired young people from over 123 countries to skip school in favour of demanding reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. While walking out of the classroom and turning their back on their education to protest might seem counterintuitive, the point is this: no amount of education will matter if the world continues on its current path of destruction. The time for change is now, and these young people are willing to do what it takes to force government action.
“I can't vote, so this is one of the ways I can make my voice heard.”
- Greta Thunberg
Taking climate change seriously
For the first time, the younger generation now overwhelmingly favours policies and measures that work to reduce greenhouse gases. In a 2018 study, 81% of millennials said they believe the planet is warming, and of that number, 65% say human activity is to blame.
It’s not just about acknowledging this; data shows that millennials are thought to be factoring climate change into their voting decisions, and according to one study, over 75% of millennials agree that humans should be taking steps to slow or stop climate change, which means they could be the first generation to truly drive major change when it comes to taking action against the climate crisis.
Teaching older generations
The above photo has taken Twitter by storm, and speaks a thousand words; a conversation between 16-year-old Greta Thunberg and 85-year-old Jane Goodall, known for her work as a primatologist, anthropologist and climate activist. Jane Goodall paved the way for conversations on the health of our planet to be had, and now it’s up to younger generations to carry this work forward, and even teach older generations how important it remains.
With worldwide strikes happening every day, and initiatives like the Green New Deal taking effect, we are beginning to see efforts have an impact. In December last year, Greta Thunberg appeared at the United Nations climate change conference in Poland, where she stated that leaders from nearly 200 countries are "behaving like children”. The younger generations are turning the tables, and slowly but surely, it’s working.
What are your thoughts on the climate crisis, and how can we do our part? Keep in touch on Instagram and let me know.