The COVID-19 pandemic has caused massive disruption worldwide. Travel has been limited, economic activity has slowed, and the vulnerabilities of our systems and supply chains has been exposed. There have been some positive environmental impacts from the reduction in human activity, including reduced air pollution and an increase of wildlife in urban areas. More broadly, we’ve had the opportunity to think about how we can build a better and fairer world – a green resilient recovery.
Young people have a key role to play in shaping this recovery - from advocating for sustainable energy, to championing zero-emission transport, and endorsing ‘nature-based solutions’ like forest restoration.
Why is climate justice important?
Data from the World Health Organisation shows that climate change is deadlier than even coronavirus, causing approximately 150,000 direct deaths per year. Many more lives are threatened by the side effects of climate change, like food insecurity and resource-driven conflicts. What’s more, the poorest and most marginalised communities across the globe will suffer the greatest impacts of climate change, especially those living in less prosperous countries in the Global South.
Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year.
The effect on people living in developing countries will be huge. For example:
- In Bangladesh, 8.3 million people live in areas with high risk of cyclones. By 2050 this is expected to grow to 20.3 million people, if actions are not taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions worldwide
- In Nepal, the mean annual temperature is set to rise by 1.3-3.8C by the 2060s, which will lead to increased monsoon rainfall, drier winters and seasonal drought
- In Tanzania, most people’s livelihoods are dependent on agriculture. Climate change is already taking a toll with frequent and severe droughts, water scarcity as well as food shortages. Around 80% of the Mount Kilimanjaro glacier has been lost in the last century, and is expected to be gone entirely by 2025
The world has committed to taking action to combat climate change and its impacts through Sustainable Development Goal 13. Many governments have created targets for moving to net zero carbon emissions. Young people can play a leading role in holding them accountable. After all, it’s our planet and our future that hangs in the balance.
What you can do
For this year’s International Youth Day, the UK National Youth Engagement Network’s core committee has designed a series of global climate events, with the mission to mobilise young people to lead sustainable climate action.
Join other young people from around the world to learn about how the climate crisis is affecting them, hear inspiring stories of young people taking action to tackle the crisis, develop your own campaigning skills and take part in a Climate Hackathon, to help transform our climate future.