Sunday, May 26News For London

Climate Change: Are the UK’s youth ready?

‘We are the last generation that can stop climate change’ – UN Summit, 2018

According to Kristalina Georgieva, the CEO of the World Bank, the younger generation must step up and combat climate change. While world leaders meet at the UN summit in Poland, young activists in the UK are working hard and taking significant steps in dealing with the issue.

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What is the problem?

The UN Summit on climate change began Monday, December 3 and will continue until December 14 in Katowice, Poland. The summit, made up of 200 nations, seeks to find viable solutions for cutting emissions and combating climate change.

In the UK, the Committee of Climate Change published its 2017 assessment report, stating the gravity of the situation.

The report said: “Climate change is not only a challenge of the future. We are already observing changes in the UK climate, with average temperatures having risen by around 1 degree C over the last century. We are seeing a trend towards warmer winters and hotter summers, sea levels around our coast are rising by around 3mm a year and there is emerging evidence of changing rainfall patterns.”

In another report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the issues must be dealt with by citizens as well as government agencies.

The IPCC said: “What we need is rapid, unprecedented changes and far-reaching changes to every aspect of society.”

With increased risks of extreme summers, flooding, deteriorating marine life, shortage in food supply as well as the raging wildfires on the other side of the continent, the UN summit said now is the time for young people to bring about an environmental change.

What is being done about it?

In light of these urgencies, activists, students and NGOs within the UK are taking necessary steps to raise awareness and take action.

Graphic by Surbhi Lal

George Barda, a spokesperson with activist group Extinction Rebellion said: “Not only is this [climate] change the greatest existential crisis, emergency and moral imperative of all human history, it’s also the greatest opportunity of all human history to kick the world into some sort of basic, compassionate sanity.”

Extinction Rebellion was one group among many who participated in climate change protests and demonstrations across London in the past month. According to Barda, their movement is about “reviving, hopefully at a mass scale, the tradition of civil disobedience.”

Additionally, university students are realising and practising routine lifestyle changes that could solve the problem further. One such practice is sustainable fashion.

Prakriti Poddar, 23, a recent postgraduate from the London College of Fashion, stated that consumers want to buy sustainable clothes but don’t know which brands to approach and how honest they would be. Because of the lack of guidelines around sustainable fashion, they fall back on high street brands.

Poddar said: “If a zip is broken, you won’t go the tailor and get another zip, you’ll just throw it away.”

It’s all about one’s mindset, according to Poddar. Young people especially must be conscious of their choices and implement basic changes in their everyday lives to create a bigger impact.

What is the future of climate change?

One of the many governmental bodies responsible for matters related to the environment is the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The BEIS Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry told Westminster World it is clear that governments, businesses and communities must take further action to confront one of the greatest global challenges we’ve ever faced.

Perry said: “That’s why we’re asking the independent climate experts of the CCC for advice on a roadmap to a net zero economy, including how emissions might be reduced and the expected costs and benefits of doing so.”

The previously mentioned report from the UK Committee of Climate Change also stated that in order to reduce long-term vulnerability to climate change, there needs to be new, stronger policies implemented by the government over the next five years. According to this report, the highest risk related to climate change in the UK is flooding and coastal change, potentially affecting communities, businesses and infrastructure.

Highlighting this issue, Logan Robin, a researcher for Hope for the Future said: “Based on the current trajectory, if we do nothing I think we are going to have 4 degrees temperature which would be catastrophically high. This means higher sea levels, higher risks of skin cancer, more natural disasters.”

In addition to governmental changes, Barda said social media has been a powerful battleground where young people come together as advocates for climate change. This, he said, has to continue in order to provide a decent, sustainable future for generations to come.

Barda said: “This is a generation that has grown up seeing at scale this crisis as a crisis before their eyes. That younger generation is much readier for a truthful narrative.”

(Interviews, Fareeda, Luke and Alicia; Copy: Alicia, Sarah and Surbhi; Videography and Photography: Luke; Audio and Video editing: Fareeda; World Video Animation: Luke; Sub Editing: Sarah; Infographic: Surbhi)