Youths of COP: A brief Q&A with people met at COP23.
Q: Please tell me about yourself.
A: I just finished studying Ocean Sciences at University of Liverpool this June. I’ve been interested in environmental problems from a young age but didn’t properly engage in environmental actions until I visited India for a summer program about environmental and social justice when I was 16. We visited communities affected by environmental disasters such as the Bhopal chemical disaster, which really opened my eyes to what is going on in the world. I got involved in activism at university, through student societies and since I graduated I have been part of the UK Youth Climate Coalition, which is an organization in the UK that campaigns for climate justice and youth involvement in the environmental movement.
Q: What inspired you to be involved in the fight against climate change?
A: Originally I was inspired by wanting to protect nature and specifically endangered species, but as time pass I have become more and more motivated by climate justice. Many people who have barely contributed to greenhouse gas emissions are the ones facing the worst effects of climate change, and this is something that needs to be tackled immediately. I am inspired by stories of people at the front-lines of the climate struggle and by seeing campaign wins, for example, the recent ban on fracking in Scotland. Or sometimes by watching a good David Attenborough documentary and reminding myself what we are protecting!
Q: Is there any projects you are currently undertaking that you would like to highlight?
A: We recently ran a workshop at the Conference of Youth titled ‘Do we need to take down neoliberalism to address climate change?’. I would encourage anyone interested in climate change to consider the bigger picture, our economic system, and what they think the root causes of climate change are. We aren’t taught much about economics in school (at least in the UK), and I think we don’t talk about it enough!
Q: Do you have a particular topic that you are following closely on and why?
A: I am going to be closely following Fiji’s Oceans Pathway Partnership and getting involved in the YOUNGO oceans working group (for obvious reasons)! The ocean is the planet’s most important climate regulator, and a large part of its capacity to take up carbon depends on having healthy ecosystems. I don’t think we talk about the oceans enough, and the OPP could permanently establish them as part of the UNFCCC dialogue.
Q: What are the key messages you would like to share with youths in general?
A: I think any young people who are hesitating to get involved with the environmental movement should know that even if you don’t feel like you know enough, you can definitely still contribute to it ! Even by just adding to the headcount at a protest, or voting for political parties with good environmental policies. Having said that, I would encourage you to get as involved as possible – the best way to learn is on the job, and I can guarantee you will meet awesome people!
Content and Media Provided by Frances Mills
Edited and Arranged by Shariman and Xiandi