The author writes about the need for more efforts promoting youth action toward curbing climate change in India. She also lists existing avenues that allow for young people's participation in the movement.
India is expected to surpass China to become the world’s biggest population very soon. With this, and its status as a rising global economic power, its share of the overall carbon footprint has risen to a great extent. In fact, India is already the third-largest emitter of CO2, even though the per capita CO2 emission is low. Its pursuit to provide for the energy requirements for over 1.4 billion people with very nascent infrastructure to curb GHG (Greenhouse Gas) makes it a primarily coal-intensive consumer of energy. Despite its commitment to net-zero emissions and sustainable growth strategies in the international society, India is far from implementing robust climate friendly policies across all economic and social spheres. This calls for the youth to actively participate in climate change movements and push the government towards better policy-making and implementation of sustainable strategies.
Youth action towards climate change in India isn’t as large-scale and impactful as compared to the west. That’s probably because this movement is fairly new here. For the longest time, the main focus of NGOs and the few climate activists across the country was for policy advocacy and building awareness in the society. It lacked collective organization and knowledge which made long-term strategy building for these organizations hard. Nevertheless, there have been considerable efforts made by the youth demanding for greater degrees of infrastructural and long term changes for sustainable development in the country.
Let’s have a look at some of the youth-led organizations for climate change action which are based in India:
India Youth Climate Network (IYCN) https://iycn.in/about.html -
IYCN was founded in 2008 through a coalition of young people driven to take action for climate change. What drove its inception was the fact that India, one of the largest young populations in the world, was missing youth representation in the 2007 UNFCCC COP international climate negotiations. Its aim is to not only spread awareness and empower the Indian youth to take effective action towards climate change, but also to improve Indian youth’s representation in discussing the most pressing issue of the 21st century – climate change – in global forums.
Let India Breathe https://www.letindiabreathe.org/
“We do not want an uprising, we want action”, is the motto of Let India Breathe, a collective of Indians who believe in getting tangible on-ground results and not just awareness and uprising when it comes to climate action. It strives for active participation of the youth in deliberations with authorities to bring change. It has led numerous projects over the years targeting a wide range of problems related to climate. Few of them are – saving the Aarey forest in Maharashtra which is home to 2238 trees, saving the trees form being cut between Dharmapuri and Hosur to build the National Highway (NH844), saving the Mollem National Park and Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary from being fragmented to build a transmission line and a highway.
Fridays For Future (FFF) is a global movement for climate change that started in 2018, two years after the Paris Agreement, by Greta Thunberg. She demanded urgent global action for the climate crisis through regular school strikes in front of the Swedish Parliament for weeks. The word of FFF spread all over the internet and soon became a global uprising in many countries. In India, the first chapter of FFF was launched in Bengaluru and has more than 30 chapters across the country today. FFF India believes in Climate strikes to be peaceful and non-violent ways of telling the government their demands to address the ongoing climate crisis and ecological breakdown.
Youth for Climate India https://www.youthforclimateindia.org/
This organization focuses on addressing climate change issues at the grassroot level through mobilization of people against systems of oppression. It believes that people from all walks of life should be involved in this fight for a greener future and demand change not only in climate restoration practices but also speak against their history of oppression. It thus openly invites everyone whether they are little children, elders, people from marginalized communities, LGBTQ+ and all other systematically marginalized people to participate in this fight.
Youth for Climate India actively organizes climate strikes in over 20 cities across the country, holds offline and online discussions on climate change in urban as well as rural areas, organizes workshops to help imbibe skills of climate communication and advocacy in students and the poor, and also holds campaigns on a myriad of climate change issues across the country.
EARTH5R, founded in 2015, is a Mumbai based socio-environmental organization whose mission is to impact two billion lives by the year 2030. It believes in taking on-ground action to curb climate change by inspiring communities through mobile technology. Currently, EARTH5R is actively implementing climate-action initiatives in 140 countries with over 90,000 citizen volunteers. Through its citizen science app, EARTH5R aims to motivate local communities in India and across the world to act collectively on environmental issues.
The organization also creates a space for young environmentalists to get hands-on experience in environmental activism by offering fellowship opportunities which provides them relevant training.
Despite significant growth in the role of youth in striving for pro-climate change, what’s lacking is the instinctual values to bring about that change at a large scale. The career-driven mindset is so deeply ingrained amongst the Indian psyche that they do not want to participate in activism and non-profit organizations because they aren’t lucrative enough. Until and unless they truly want to bring a change, they cannot be expected to participate in the fight for a greener India. Thus, the existing enthusiastic and optimistic youth-led organizations have the responsibility to leverage their ideas and strengths at a larger scale across the country.