Share 10 youth climate activists who are finding novel ways to take action
Accessed from the world wide web at 09:00 hrs 02.08.22.
In last year’s Children’s Climate Risk Index, global children’s rights organisation UNICEF reported that one billion children (almost half of all the world’s children) live in countries that are at extremely high risk from the worst impacts of climate change. It’s these children who will inherit the earth – with its predicted increasing carbon emissions, soaring temperatures, extreme weather events, droughts, famines, food shortages, global displacements and all.
It’s no wonder that more than half of the UK’s child psychiatrists are reporting a rise in ‘eco anxiety’ among their patients, with many young people aged 16-25 shouldering an enormous psychological burden as they face an uncertain future. But the kids are also all right: there’s a whole new generation of youth climate activists demanding and taking action and inspiring hope.
Here, we highlight 10 youth climate activists from around the globe who are finding novel ways to sound the climate alarm.
1. The teenager who sued for climate action
When Australian climate activist Anjali Sharma was 16, she filed a class action suit against the Australian federal government – and Minister for the Environment Susan Ley – for failing to consider the impacts of climate change on young people. Though ultimately her win was overturned in the court of appeals, her story hit headlines – including featuring on the award-winning 7am podcast – and inspired many more to fight for more climate justice.
2. The COP speaker who starred in a climate activism music video
British climate justice activist, student, and leading UK environmentalist Dominique Palmer began her activism as part of Greta Thunberg’s Fridays For Future/School Strike for Climate movement – switching to a digital strike during the COVID-19 pandemic. After speaking at the 2019 United Nations Climate Change Conference – COP25 – her speech was sampled in Sharpened Knife by Swedish artist Titiyo and producer Paresse, release on Earth Day.
3. The Birdgirl who runs nature camps for inner-city kids
In February 2020, British-Bangladeshi ornithologist, and campaigner for equal rights Dr Mya–Rose Craig, aka Birdgirl, received an honorary doctorate in science from the University of Bristol – the youngest Briton to receive such an award. Not content to rest on her laurels, this year she released her acclaimed memoir Birdgirl, about her mother’s struggle with mental illness and her passion for social justice and fierce dedication to preserving our planet and took home a Diana Award for her charity Black2Nature, which runs nature camps to give marginalised teens access to the great outdoors.
4. The California eco-communicator schooling the world on intersectional environmentalism
California-based intersectional environmental activist and eco-communicator Leah Thomas kick-started her environmental career as blogger Green Girl Leah and founder of The Intersectional Environmentalist Platform, a ‘resource + media hub that aims to advocate for environmental justice + inclusivity within environmental education + movements’. She is Passionate about advocating for and exploring the relationship between social justice and environmentalism, she’s written for Vogue and ELLE on the topic and her debut book, The Intersectional Environmentalist: How to Dismantle Systems of Oppression to Protect People + Planet, comes out in the UK in September 2022.
5. The uni student who kicked fossil fuel out of climate change negotiations
While studying for her BA in political science and English in New York, Pakistani-born Ayisha Siddiqa also found time to mobilise 300,000 climate activists onto the streets of Manhattan, co-found Fossil Free University – a 12-week climate justice training course – and co-found Polluters Out, a global climate coalition. Inspired by the failure of COP25, where youth and Indigenous activists were removed while the fossil fuel industry had a presence, Polluters Out launched in 2020 with just 150 members globally, demanding that the fossil fuel industry relinquishes control of every aspect of our society from Indigenous lands, governments, banks, universities, and climate negotiations.
6. The climate science graduate making jokes about the emergency
Comedian and Columbia University grad – in climate science and policy, no less – Rollie Williams performs under the comic brand Climate Town, sharing YouTube videos on topics such as fuel prices, fast fashion, and what banks really do with your money. The latter uses jokes and Toy Story references to alert audiences that while banks representing 40% of global banking assets have joined the Net Zero Banking Alliance, fossil fuel financing from the world’s 60 largest banks reached US$4.6 trillion in just six years since the Paris Agreement in 2015. But it’s not all lols: the videos also include advice on how to tackle the issues, including this step-by-step toolkit on what to do about banking.
7. The student empowering marginalised youth to take climate action
American climate justice activist, community organiser, student and UN Togetherband Ambassador Kevin Patel openly shares his experiences as a front–line climate activist diagnosed with severe heart issues due to Los Angeles’ poor air quality. He founded OneUpAction International, an intersectional youth-led organisation that supports and empowers marginalised youth by providing them with the resources they need to be climate changemakers. It offers free support, resources and programmes such as fellowships to empower young people to innovate and implement to solve the crisis.
8. The global group – from high schoolers to young adults – making climate protests accessible
The Re-Earth Initiative is on a mission to make the climate movement accessible to all. The initiative has its roots in an action from two years ago, when the founders mobilised thousands of people to take part in digital protests: asking them to make two climate pledges for Earth Day, one individual and one systemic. Since the success of the campaign they’ve been working to help people turn pledges into action.
9. The ‘small island gal with big dreams’ who spoke at COP21 and COP26
Poet, climate warrior and anti-nuclear advocate Selina Neirok Leem, from Majuro, Marshall Island, was the youngest delegate at COP21 – where the Paris Agreement was formed. The One Young World ambassador’s speech then appeared in Leonardo DiCaprio’s documentary on the climate crisis, Before the Flood. Selina went on to speak at the World Leaders Summit at COP26, and shared her poem I Grew, Giant at Flourishing Diversity’s alternative COP26 event Real World Leaders on Climate, listening to Indigenous peoples’ voices.
10. The Kenyan climate activist who co-founded a national network
Climate activist, Africa coordinator at Earth Uprising International and one of the Top 100 Kenyans 2021, Kevin Mai co-founded the Kenya Environmental Action Network (KEAN) to create a national network to support young Kenyan environmental sustainability leaders. KEAN also runs restoration programmes, offers conservation education, and anti-plastic campaigns such as #AfricaIsNotADumpster. Last year Greenhouse hosted Kevin on his first visit to the UK to help him to spread the word about KEAN’s work, and we are funding four schools and a community garden as part of the Bustani Schools Garden Project (see video below).