Thursday, February 22, 2024
Editorial

Climate battle

New data has emerged showing electricity generation in China and India and oil and gas production in the US produced the biggest increases in global greenhouse gas emissions since 2015, when the Paris Climate Agreement was signed. According to data published on December 3 by the Climate Trace project, emissions of methane ~ a greenhouse gas 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide ~ have also risen, despite more than 100 countries signing up to a pledge to reduce the gas. It also revealed that countries and companies are failing to report their emissions accurately, despite obligations to do so under the Paris Agreement. Against this backdrop, more than 190 countries have gathered at this year’s UN COP28 climate summit in Dubai since November 30 in an attempt to put the world on track to meet the Paris goal of limiting global temperature rises to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. According to reports, India has refrained at the summit from signing pledges to phase out coal. It has also opted out of another declaration that emphasises the need to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions for health benefits. The world stands at a crossroads, grappling with the escalating climate crisis that threatens to engulf our planet. As the global community embarks on a collective journey towards sustainability, the role of youth emerges as a beacon of hope, a force that can shape a greener future. The urgency to involve youth in climate change mitigation efforts cannot be overstated. Young people, constituting nearly 25% of the world’s population, represent a reservoir of energy, innovation and resilience. Their voices, often drowned out by the cacophony of adult discourses, hold the key to unlocking transformative solutions. Climate change is not a distant threat; it is an imminent reality that will disproportionately impact the youth of today. Their future, their dreams and their aspirations are intertwined with the fate of our planet. It is a moral imperative to ensure that they have a say in shaping the world they will inherit. The benefits of youth engagement in climate action are manifold. Their fresh perspectives and boundless creativity can challenge conventional thinking and lead to the emergence of groundbreaking solutions. Their technological prowess can revolutionise energy production, transportation systems and sustainable practices. Youth engagement fosters a sense of ownership and responsibility towards the environment. When young people are actively involved in climate action, they develop a deep understanding of the interconnectedness of ecosystems and the consequences of human actions. This awareness translates into a lifelong commitment to environmental stewardship. Yet, despite their immense potential, youth voices remain largely absent from the climate change discourse. They are often relegated to the sidelines, treated as passive recipients of knowledge rather than active participants in shaping solutions. This exclusion is a disservice to both the youth and the planet. It stifles the potential of a generation that could lead us towards a sustainable future. It undermines the credibility of climate action efforts that lack the voices of those who will inherit the consequences. To truly address the climate crisis, we must empower youth to become agents of change. This requires a paradigm shift from tokenistic engagements to meaningful participation. Youth must be given a seat at the decision-making table, their voices heard and valued. Educational institutions must play a pivotal role in nurturing environmental consciousness and equipping youth with the knowledge and skills necessary to tackle climate change. Curricula should integrate environmental education, fostering a holistic understanding of sustainability principles. Governments must create enabling environments for youth-led initiatives, providing financial support, mentorship and access to resources. They must also prioritise youth representation in climate negotiations and policymaking processes. Civil society organisations should collaborate with youth groups, amplifying their voices and providing platforms for their advocacy. They should also facilitate knowledge exchange and networking opportunities among young climate leaders. It is about time we harness the collective power of the youth to steer the world towards a sustainable and equitable future.

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