I DROPPED OUT OF SCHOOL TO START MY PROTESTS.
My name is Licypriya Kangujam and I am an eight year old Indian Climate Activist, Founder of The Child Movement. I started the “The Child Movement” on 10th July 2018 to call on world leaders to take immediate climate action to save our environment, our planet and our future. When I began the movement, I was all alone but today, many young people have join the movement to demand for climate action. I started attending various international conferences, meetings, seminars and workshops as I accompanied my father who was also a local activist. In July 2018 when I was just six years old, I attended the 3rd Asia Ministerial Conference for Disaster Risks Reduction 2018 (AMCDRR 2018) in Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia. During the conference, I spoke to world leaders. I also attended the Global World Youth Conference 2016 and the South Asian Youth Summit 2017. I am preparing to travel from India to UK by road ahead of COP26 Glasgow in an electric + solar car, crossing 17 countries for 17,000 KM within 90 days to create awareness on clean energy and also to send a message to the leaders to abandon the fossil fuel economy. In 2019, I brought a symbolic device called SUKIFU (Survival Kit for the Future) to curb air pollution. SUKIFU is almost a zero budget kit designed from trash to provide fresh air to the body when the pollution rate is high. I also set up a single-use plastics recycle unit in collaboration with a company in Delhi to recycle plastic waste into school furniture items like benches and desks. This was to reduce plastic pollution in my country as part of my climate activism. I also produced house roof sheets and home tiles made from recycled single use plastics like packets of ice cream, chips and polythene. I have planted more than 50,000 trees in India and other parts of the world. By raising funds, I extended support through my foundation to the victims of various natural disasters caused by climate change. I contributed Rupees 100,000 to the Government of Kerala for the Kerala Massive Flood 2018 to support the children affected by this crisis. I also provided relief to Odisha landslides of 2019. I also designed low cost face shields called “Li-Face Protective Gear” at home and distributed for free to the front line warriors in the Covid-19 pandemic like doctors, police personnel and healthcare staff. I am taking an individual initiative called the “Green Olympic Game” to transform Olympic Games into a green and sustainable competition with zero carbon emissions and no single use plastics. I planned to launch it in the Tokyo Olympic Game 2020 from July 27 to August 8 in Japan but it has been postponed to 2021 due to the global pandemic. I hope to see the host country calculate and offset all emissions associated with the organizing and running of the Olympics, clean transportation to and from the Olympics, an opportunity for each athlete to plant a tree and no use of fireworks. I am also currently working on the construction of a fully free residential school for the poor and underprivileged war and conflicts victims especially children under my foundation with the love and support of various organizations and people of the World.
Adapting to social works and love for the environment is in my blood. I cry when I see children losing their parents, when I see people become homeless because of climate disasters.
I dropped out of school to start my protests. My first climate strike was on 2nd February 2019 at the Parliament House of India. My message is to the Honorable Prime Minister of India Mr. Narendra Modi and our government leaders to pass the climate change law from the written policy to visible action. If they pass the climate law then we can reduce carbon emissions. This will also benefit millions of people in the country especially the poor and marginalized communities who are already facing terrible impacts of climate change. I want the government leaders to include climate change as a compulsory subject in our school education curriculum. This will educate more young people about our environment and also continue to create more awareness about the climate crisis and what needs to be done to get action. This will also help to fight climate change from the grassroots. I also want the government to put in place a condition for passing the final exam, and that is for students to plant at least ten trees. In India, we have 350 million students. If each student plants a minimum of 10 trees every year then we will plant 3.5 billion trees a year. Trust me! India will be green in 5 years.
Just a few months back, I went to Madrid, Spain in December 2019 to attend the United Nations Climate Conference. I went there to tell the world leaders that the climate crisis is a real emergency and that they must act now to save our planet and our future. I also met with the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres and Greta Thunberg. I heard many speeches from our leaders saying that they will do this and that. Many made promises but at the end, COP25 was a failure. Our leaders keep gathering for the conference but they keep failing us.
India is the 5th most vulnerable country in the World due to the climate crisis. India faces a challenge of air pollution. Reducing air pollution also cuts down carbon emissions, but this is not the only problem India faces. The increasing global temperatures are a threat. Unchecked global warming will hit India hard by increasing extreme weather conditions. The floods are one of the climate disasters that we are facing. Heat waves have already caused thousands of deaths in India and rising temperatures that make outdoor work impossible have already seen the labor equivalent to about half a million people lost since 2000. But in the coming decades, heat waves could reach a level of humid heat and as a result posing “extreme danger” for three-quarters of the population. It has not been easy for me to tell the leaders and the public about the dangers that India faces because of the climate crisis. People always tell me that I am are too young to get involved in climate activism. I have constantly received backlash and criticism with false propaganda targeting me and my family members to weaken my movement especially from our political leaders, workers and few local media associated with them. But I never pay a single heed to them as I don’t have time to fight with them.
We need to create more awareness of the urgency of the problem and educate people on the solutions. This can let the people know about the climate crisis and fight for climate justice.
We can make sustainable choices in our personal lives about things like diet, transport and money. And also we need to exert political pressure everywhere we can. We need to co-operate and help each other to unite our efforts and scale them up to a national level. Covid-19 is a nature wake up call to take climate action and listen to the scientists. We need to revive the relationship between nature and human beings from this crisis. To all the young people out there, age cannot stop you from making a difference. Leaders always underestimate the power of a child. Children are already bearing the brunt of the impact of climate change because of the increased risk of health problems, malnutrition and migration. Kids must lead and adults must follow. Young people need to come out. Let us fight for our own future. We should continue to give more pressure to our world leaders to save our future.
We are unstoppable and another world is possible. Change is possible. And the change starts from ourselves. If you can change yourself, then you can change your family. If you can change your family then you can change your neighborhood. If you can change your neighborhood, then you can change your community, if you can change your community, then you can change your country. If you can change your country, then you can change the whole world.