Sun, Apr 15, 2018 - Page 15 News List

Young people worldwide take up climate activism

By Nicole Hoey  /  Thomson Reuters Foundation, LONDON

At the time, she remembers thinking: “How is this something that not everyone is talking about?”

Zaia felt that her community’s response — digging deeper wells — did not go far enough to deal with looming water shortages as a result of climate change.

Last month, she and 11 other students blocked entrances to a meeting of fracking lobbyists at the Trump International Hotel in Washington.

To counter US President Donald Trump’s assertion that global warming is a hoax and his link to fossil-fuel corporations, Sunrise Movement members shared personal stories of climate change for two hours before they were removed from the scene, Zaia said.

Finding an avenue to take action on their fears about climate change can be hugely helpful for young people, activist leaders have said.

“It’s quite empowering to be something in your global community,” said Melanie Mattauch, the European communications coordinator for 350.org, a group working to build a global grassroots movement to demand action on climate change.

Since 2012, the organization has worked with university students to help them demand that their institutions become “greener” and cut use of fossil fuels, Mattauch said in an interview.

Students at about 850 universities are now part of the network, including in cities ranging from New York to Berlin and Paris to Cape Town.

PUSH Sweden, another youth organization pushing sustainability goals, said social media and the Internet now make it easier for young people to work together.

“PUSH Sweden is creating somewhere young people can meet, not dependent on where they live,” 23-year-old board member Tove Lexen said.

For example, the group in 2015 held an online Climate Confusion event, with videos and a live panel talking about climate change, bringing together youth from several Swedish cities.

At the foundation of nearly all the youth climate movements is an urge to fight for a better, more livable future for generations to come.

Having youth involved in the fight to curb climate change means that the people most affected by decisions around the issue become a key part of the conversation, said Isabella Munson, communications leader for Zero Hour, a youth-run US group focused on taking concrete action against climate change.

“We have a duty to the earth and every generation to come to protect our home,” she said in an interview. “There are billions of young people in this world. We are not a force to be ignored.”

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