The Financial Express

Climate sufferers look to new generations

| Updated: November 13, 2021 19:20:25

-- Young Indigenous land rights activists take part in a climate strike on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021 in Glasgow during COP26 	—Photo National Observer -- Young Indigenous land rights activists take part in a climate strike on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021 in Glasgow during COP26 —Photo National Observer

Featuring a raft of pledges, mostly non-binding, nations which met at the COP26 to reach consensus on solving a number of critical climate impasses are set to conclude their sessions today. Like at the maiden Conference of Parties (COP) at Stockholm in 1972, the 2021 conference virtually wound up hoping to hold further discussions on climate change, especially global warming. The 2016 Paris Accords ended in a mixed mood, dominated by foot dragging on the part of a few industrial powers. In a few weeks, climatologists could read the smokescreen poised to make a swoop on the optimism exuded at the grand Paris assemblage. It became clear that a handful of non-committal nations at the Paris Accords meet were not prepared to deliver on their promises on emission cut. Much before the preparations made for the just-concluded COP, it had been clear the lofty target of capping the carbon emission ceiling at 1.5 degrees Celsius would remain a pipedream.

Along with the optimists, the seemingly incorrigible doomsayers also have showed a dominant presence at the climate summits and widely attended general discussions. The latter included both die-hard environmental activists and liberally disposed scientists. Though their number has been on the decline, people like the much-revered British conservationist Sir David Attenborough, the climate crusaders like the ex-American Vice President and climate activist Al Gore et al are still being looked forward to. Sir Attenborough in today's world is a highly senior conservationist armed with experience and wisdom. He is at present the longest-living person in environmental activism and one highly worried about Earth's future. Sir Attenborough may not be fully physically able to remain present at the coming climate events. But Al Gore is vibrant with youthfulness, undertaking travels across the globe tirelessly. He has taken it as a mission to inform the heads of state and corporate leaders about the heavy price which mankind may have to pay if they do not deliver on their promises on carbon emission cut.  After the recent global warming and carbon emission meets, these persons are approached for their comments --- especially on the extent to which the ill-prepared countries are vulnerable to climate impacts.

To the utter shock and surprise of the climate-conscious people and their local leaders, the world at present has just a handful of climate activists well versed in the pros and cons of the approaching climate disasters. At the same time, perhaps at nature's dictate, dozens of uncompromising youths from different countries have created fronts to battle global warming and climate change. Led by Greta Thunberg, the 18-year-old Swedish activist, youths have shouldered the giant task --- which is no less than saving the whole world from climate change fallout. Thunberg had and an impressive and effective start. In no time, it assumed the shape of a world-stirring movement. In her emergence, seasoned environmental leaders discovered the shaping of an 'hyperactive youth'  prepared to wage a war on the quarters responsible for precipitating environmental disasters, finally helping the scourge of climate change to surface alarmingly. Given the moral support Thunberg has been receiving for the last few years world-wide, she is slated to emerge as the leader of an Earth-saving group intent on making nations aware of the excesses of fossil fuel emissions. The older climate activists have long begun feeling the need for the emergence of younger leaders. They are expected to fill the gap created by the retiring seniors. As anticipated rationally, camaraderie among different activists in different nations has never seemed elusive.

 The emergence of Thunberg is phenomenal, and globally stirring. Thanks to her assertiveness in stopping the nearly catastrophic climate change, the Swedish post-teenage girl has been able to arouse riveting attention. Thunberg has foreseen groups of climate activists flooding the city streets around the world to get their message across. It's simple and crisp: Stand united and save the planet. Thunberg entered the scenario after completing her necessary groundwork like in-depth study and watching the TV footage of climate change-affected countries. Simultaneously, she has been attending the environmental events in the far-flung regions of the world. The most vital contribution the Swedish girl made to the global spread of her movement was her Friday March with school and college students. In full #FridaysForFuture campaign, the march of students every Friday soon engulfed the large European and North American cities. They didn't have seasoned orators or advocacy leaders. But what they were equipped adequately with was their unflinching commitment to save the planet's vulnerable peoples by ensuring a world free of climate change hazards.

On her emerging more and more vocal on the climate and related issues, which replicated a worldwide network of climate protection campaigns participated by youths, Thunberg was viewed as a suitable candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize. To be specific, Thunberg received first of the three Nobel Peace Prize nominations for climate activism in 2018. Early that year, more than 20,000 students, from UK to Japan, had joined her by skipping school to protest. That was the start of the students' Friday March every week.

Greta Thunberg was spectacularly present at the COP26. How could she avoid being present at the event, which centred round an issue to which she had dedicated all the fun and frolic of youth. It was natural that her appearance at the climate conference venue would raise some eyebrows. But she was not alone. With her presence, Thunberg had brought along with her the indomitable spirit of the young climate leaders and activists from all the countries vulnerable to climate change and global warming. Many of these countries have already started experiencing the early signs of sea-level rise. As could have been assumed, Thunberg didn't find her alone in the global climate-change campaign. It didn't take long for her to discover a trusted companion, a Ugandan young climate warrior, beside her. She was Vanessa Nakate, a 22-year-old graduate from the Makerere Enterprise College. The Ugandan young lady, a resident of Kampala, started quite humbly with her two teenage brothers and three cousins. She called a similar weekly march of young students on Saturdays. Nakate saw the membership of her campaign swell with the joining of similar climate activists. Together, they came up with a symbolic demonstration of their strength and resolve at Davos in 2020.    

The world has undergone remarkable changes during the last half century since the first-ever COP in 1972. In the bipolar world of the time, the Cold War rivalry still simmering, arresting the climate change was easier than today. What worry climatologists now is the seas' changing nature. In a multi-polar world, every powerful nation has its own view of the ongoing climate change. At the initial stage, the culprit was greenhouse gas emission. At the first two COP meets in the 1970s, the participants made a strong commitment to arrest the harmful emission. With the Cold War then strongly in place, the US and its allies out to overwhelm Soviet Russia with their industrial might, the world largely failed to see any let-up to carbon emissions. It had to wait for the start of the 1990s, when the time was viewed as being ripe to resume climate talks keeping the world environmental situation in view. Eventually the global warming and climate change found their due places on the agenda of issues.

Once brought to the notice of committed leaders and activists, the climate change issue couldn't be kept confined to the venues abuzz with representatives from all corners of the world. The results came in the from the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992, and the 1997 Kyoto Protocol meet in Japan. Despite the inclusion of several climate-change prohibitions, these summits could yield little concrete outcome, thanks to the USA's refusal to sign the vital Kyoto Protocol on cutting greenhouse gas emission. It cited damages set to be caused to its huge economy upon giving approval to the 'anti-US' Protocol. These narrow biases and squabbles could long have been dealt with effectively. The reason that it didn't happen was the old powers digging in their heels in every matter of climate changes. What the world badly needs now is the infusion of fresh blood, i.e. thoughtful youth spirit, into all remedial measures to be put into effect. It should be done without delay. The seas have already started swelling.

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