For some young people, climate change is just another one of the growing problems we have with the world, tacked on the end of poverty, water scarcity, oppression; another problem we can’t change. We live in a world controlled and dictated by adults, where we are told that we’ll ‘get it’ when we grow up. According to UNESCO's statistics, 50.5% of the people on the planet are under 30. And together, young people face one common threat: a world that’s growing increasingly inhospitable.
The youth is and will be directly affected by all the changes that happen in the environment. Anyone born after 1990 has never experienced a stable climate, and as we speedily approach the point of no return when it comes to humanity's impact on the environment, it’s really easy to feel overwhelmed by the problem. While going vegan and walking to school are important individual changes, they can feel useless when compared to international policies and massive corporations.
In the UK, the problems start at an early age. The school curriculum fails to properly educate us on the changing climate, it’s causes and global future impacts – let alone equip us with the skills to change it. Young people are forced to choose at a young age their future career and pushed through an education system that often doesn’t suit their need, and made to regurgitate useless information. Our curiosity and individuality is removed, and we are piled with enormous stress. The tragedy of it all is even if we have the time or headspace to try and make a difference, we lack official channels to make our voice heard.
Those under 18 cannot vote, and are therefore unable to have any say in the governance of their own country. Our voice is silenced and dismissed as too young to understand and too inexperienced to understand the real world. When youth have demanded change before, the government’s inaction can feel like depressing proof that young people's opinions will always be sidelined.
As individuals, it's hard to change the way our world works. But together, we’ve got a fighting chance. If we can connect together and empower each other to put value in our joint voices, I really believe that we can make a change and be heard by those who ignore us. Traditionally, youth are the pathfinders of progress, the movers and shakers of the world. Specifically, our power to see the world in a hopeful light means we are unique as a group and that’s exactly what gives us our power.
We as youth possess many of the essential qualities to lead the fight for climate justice. One of our strengths is our ability to use social media to mobilise movement. We are also able to connect globally through social media, on a speed and scale unparalleled to any other generation. It is also an inherent characteristic of young people to challenge the status quo, rebel and oppose the older generations. Our ability to think transformatively, innovatively and idealistically help us create crazy solutions to crazy problems. We are the perfect candidates to dream big for our future.
Youth have rebellion and energy in their blood and understanding this power we have as a collective is an empowering feeling. Everything in this world is interdependent, and climate change is just a symptom of the toxic system we live in. Whether you are a strong feminist, a proud member of the LGBT+ community, or campaigning for mental health awareness, the climate fight encompasses your fights too. We’ve got a lot to change, starting with the way we’re educated and how we learn.
We are told again and again that we are the future, but we are also the present. We have voice and opinions and knowledge right now. If we want change, we can create change by joining together as over half the world’s population and disrupting the status quo that has led us to this point. We have to continue empowering young people to believe in their own power and their own voices. It is essential to continue to try and change things that we believe are wrong with the world, because it’s our future at stake.
Here are a few of the groups that are empowering and mobilizing youth!
- https://africanclimatealliance.org/ — an Afrocentric youth group committed to delivering environmental justice.
- https://www.radicalrestart.org/the-project — a cross-movement space to create dialogue and mutual learning and to connect young people.
- https://ukscn.org/ — a student movement campaigning for climate and social justice.
- https://www.globaljustice.org.uk/youth — a network to bring youth voice to the front of global movement fighting poverty
- https://www.facebook.com/XRYouth/ — the young voice of the Extinction Rebellion, who use non-violent direct action to create change