The next generation has a significant role to play in the fight against climate change
According to an IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) special report, global average temperature has surpassed the borderline of 1 degree Celsius. It’s also been predicted that if we fail to transform from a fossil fuel-based economy to a 100% renewable energy-based economy, the rate of global temperature increase will be more severe.
IPCC has estimated that about 350 million urban residents will be exposed to severe drought by 2100 in the case of a 1.5C temperature rise, whilst this number will be 410 million for 2C. Even a half degree temperature rise would exacerbate food security by lowering yields and reducing nutritional content in the tropical zone.
The 2018 UN Climate Change Conference was held from December 2 to 15 in Katowice, Poland, where global leaders met to finalize the implementing framework of key decisions taken under the Paris Agreement at COP 21. The Paris Agreement incorporates different themes of interest such as adaptation, mitigation, loss and damage, NDCs (nationally determined contributions), finance, global stocktake, compliance mechanism, etc.
Among all of these themes, NDCs for mitigation drew significant attention, which was discussed in Article 3 in the Paris Agreement. Article 3 portrays that all parties are to undertake and communicate concerted effort in order to achieve the purpose of the Paris Agreement to limit the temperature well below 2C and, if possible, below 1.5C.
The youth are playing a vital role, both locally and globally, to reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions from the use of fossil fuels, unsustainable agricultural practices, and large scale deforestation worldwide. Today’s youth are engaged with different types of environmental actions such as raising awareness for changing our routine lifestyle to emit low carbon, promoting tree plantation in the community, and educating people on the adverse impact of climate change, along with their responsibilities to save our planet, embracing and implementing different adaptation and mitigation projects, etc.
They are also socially and environmentally aware of the necessity of transition to a low-carbon economy and a climate resilient community, as they are experiencing the present nature of the climate anomalies, and will be the victims of the future global climate shift.
Considering the necessity of youth involvement in international climate negotiation processes, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) formulated YOUNGO -- a youth constituency that brings youth people together to give them first-hand knowledge of the UNFCCC process, assist in network building, and provide them a number of opportunities such as : Meeting with high-level officials of UNFCCC to share their thoughts, making technical and policy input, discussing with negotiators about the policy framework, and so on.
The ultimate goal of YOUNGO is to empower the youth so that they can raise their voices at the UNFCCC conference.
Another platform named the United Nations Joint Framework Initiative on Children, Youth, and Climate Change has been working to ensure youth participation in the climate change movement since 2008 with the help of 16 intergovernmental entities such as UNDP, UNEP, and UNESCO.
These entities are assisting the young generation by providing necessary funds to implement their innovative ideas of different adaptation and mitigation actions. For instance, in Ghana, Bright Generation Community Foundation with support from the UNDP implemented a project named “Bamboo Bicycle Project” in order to introduce an alternative mode of transport which is healthy and energy intensive.
Their main motto is to use bamboo instead of steel while manufacturing bicycles. About 0.005ton/5kg of CO2 is recorded to be released at the time of the production of a steel frame while a bamboo tree sequesters carbon, and also produces oxygen.
In addition, a number of school students in Barbados implemented a project regarding the use of biodiesel as an alternative fuel to reduce emissions of CO2. In this project, they were able to produce approximately 3,000 litres of biodiesel which helped cut CO2 emission by up to 6,000 tons.
Back in Bangladesh, youths are also playing a remarkable role to fight climate change as several youth based clubs, alliances, and organizations are working on the ground. They are organizing symposiums, rallies, and conferences to raise awareness among the people.
For example, Works for Green Bangladesh (WGB) -- a youth based advocacy organization -- arranges different types of programs in different schools and universities. The International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) is currently implementing a youth mentorship program to build capacity of youth on different climate change issues, particularly on climate governance.
Apart from these organizations, there are a number of youth-based alliances and institutions in Bangladesh which are working and advocating to reduce GHG emissions.
Given the context of the youth’s fight against climate change, they should be considered a significant stakeholder. However, a major portion of the youth are facing massive challenges such as social discrimination, lack of educational and employment opportunities, gender inequality, and health risks.
Moreover, still a major segment of the youth is not included in the development process due to a lack of proper nurturing and recognition from social, governmental, and civil society organizations, a lack of adequate funding, a lack of their inclusion in the decision-making process, and a lack of explicit action plans.
So, it is high time the aforementioned problems of the young were addressed so that we can tap into their hidden potential. They are, after all, future torch-bearers in the fight against climate injustice.
SM Saify Iqbal is working as a Research Assistant (Climate Change Advocacy) at the Centre for Participatory Research and Development (CPRD). Mritunjoy Mojumder is a Graduate Student of the Department of Geography and Environment, University of Dhaka.