I AM a student of geography and development studies, working as an intern for the non-governmental organisation called Project 90 by 2030, which aims to inspire and mobilise a low-carbon generation.
I am conducting an assessment of environmental clubs in schools to raise awareness on environmental issues so that members can take on leadership and inspire their family, their community and maybe even more.
As an assessor, I have visited many clubs throughout the country, and, luckily, became a member of the NGO’s young leaders programme, Project 90 by 2015.
The key objective of the programme is to get global leaders at UN level to sign an international agreement that will slow the emission of the greenhouse gases responsible for climate change.
Being involved in these programmes opened my eyes. It is not fun that in some countries air pollution is so heavy that people have to wear breathing protection. It is not fun that we produce so much plastic waste that we dump into our seas, letting its animals eat it and eventually die of it.
It is not cool that people who care for the environment are called “tree huggers” because they wear sustainable clothes and bring their own cloth bag when they go shopping. It is not cool that people don’t care enough.
It is not cool that developed countries, or the countries of the Global North, are the biggest polluters on earth, with the highest CO2 emissions that cause global warming.
It is not cool that less developed countries, or the countries of the Global South, suffer the most effects from climate change. It hits them even harder: severe droughts, rainfall and floods are not an unusual sight any more, let alone climate refugees.
It is not cool that the world’s leaders have been negotiating for 19 years now. Achievements? None.
Well yes, there are some agreements countries try to avoid following. And yes, people, young and old, have lost faith in those negotiations. If the world cannot agree on a way to save the world, why should others?
It is not cool that people have lost faith in their power to make a change. It is not cool the youth don’t have a real voice at the climate change negotiations.
It is even hard for them to
Neville Alexander (1936-2012), activist, scholar attend, especially for people from the Global South.
It is not cool that the lead negotiator of the Philippines almost cried during his speech at the opening ceremony at 19th UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP19).
It is not cool that his country, his family, have to fight for existence while reluctant negotiators are sitting in Warsaw, Poland, sipping coffee, gambling with their country’s interests, blocking out the natural disaster whose severity is due to the human-induced climate change they don’t want to control.
Is this the world we want our children to grow up in, without having done anything about it?
Well, I am a young person who is committed to the creation of a better world and I have regained faith in the power of the youth thanks to my work with the Project 90 environmental clubs in South Africa.
I have experienced these youngsters’ huge potential since they are eager to learn, they believe in change, they are inspiring other people to do likewise and most importantly, they don’t give up.
Now I feel a renewed urge to inspire and influence a positive change so that it becomes cool and fun to care for the environment.
I ask the young people of today, of Germany as much as of South Africa: We all live on the same planet – isn’t our world worth fighting for? And how about if we trigger this worthwhile fight by speaking up, spreading the word and making it cool and fun to care for the environment?
Nicole Demmel, Project 90 by 2030 volunteer