From the Viewsroom

We need more Greta Thunbergs

Preeti Mehra | Updated on September 25, 2019 Published on September 25, 2019

Greta Thunberg, Swedish teen climate activist. File photo of   -  REUTERS

Climate change deniers, such as Trump, need to be checked by such voices

It was high time environmental activism moved beyond the confines of the conference room and brought people out on the streets. And what could be more telling than protests led by school children the world over, demanding action from their governments to save our planet from the dangers of global warming and to arrest further environmental degradation? In this context, September 20, 2019 will go down in history as the day of the ‘Climate Strike’, when massive demonstrations were held globally three days before a UN emergency climate summit at its headquarters in New York.

The strike was a resounding success. Some four million children and young people in thousands of cities participated in a demonstration that demanded climate action. They came out in impressive numbers in New York, New Delhi, Nairobi, Manila, Mumbai, Melbourne and London with one message — stop the carbon emissions and save Mother Earth. A chant that resounded on the streets of New York summed it up: “You had a future, and so should we.” This was the collective cry of the younger generation imploring world leaders to act.

Much of the credit for mobilising the youth for the September 20 show of strength must go to 16-year-old Greta Thunberg from Sweden, the undeclared ambassador of the movement. Though the first Climate Strike was organised in November 2015 and timed to the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris that year, it was Greta’s demonstration outside the Swedish Parliament in August 2018 that fired the imagination of young people across the world.

The then 15-year-old stayed away from school for three weeks and demanded that Swedish lawmakers reduce carbon emissions in accordance with the Paris Agreement. Thunberg became an overnight sensation after her protests went viral on social media. She was later invited to address the 2018 UN Climate Change Conference in Katowice, Poland. Known for her blunt talk, Greta is undoubtedly a role model and an icon for the youth. She is also seen as world leader of the future — someone who addresses real public concerns with the seriousness and sincerity they deserve.

Surely the world needs many more dedicated Gretas at a time when it is dominated by the likes of Donald Trump who has the dubious distinction of rolling back 84 laws protecting the environment ever since he assumed office in the White House on January 20, 2017.

The writer is an Editorial Consultant with BusinessLine

Published on September 25, 2019
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