New Delhi, Mar 15 (PTI) “I can’t breathe. Should I stop going to school?” “Kids need clean air”. “No more excuses”.
These were some of the phrases on placards Delhi-NCR students carried as they joined the global “Fridays for Future” protest against climate change, urging governments and authorities to tackle the problem.
The protests were started by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg in August 2018, becoming a regular event on the 15th of every month. Students from over 1,300 towns and cities went on planned strikes across the world Friday, a statement from the Global Strategic Communications Council (GSCC) said.
In the Delhi-NCR, over 500 students between age group of 10-16 years skipped their schools to be a part of the protest here.
“Climate change is the millenial cancer. It needs to be nipped in the bud. My teachers say we must cover our face when we go out in winters, but then I fell sick even in summers too. I can’t play outside, and if I do I can’t breathe,” said Arya Gupta.
The 13-year-old student had a few questions for political leaders too.
“Last winter, politicians said they have a plan to clean the air but even now, my city’s skyline is polluted. Does that mean I should stop going to school altogether? Even the United Nation’s report says India is the world’s most polluted country, clearly the government’s plan is not working.”
The students also raised voice against the passing of the Punjab Land Preservation Bill 2019, opening up the Aravalli Hills for mining and real estate sector.
Kriti Kakar, a class 12 student from Gurgaon’s Heritage School who is also a member of the school’s centre for active citizenship to help save the Aravallis, said climate change was majorly caused by greenhouse effect, and accelerated by human activities like deforestation.
“If the Aravallis are destroyed that would mean we lose a major carbon sink. Along with losing the home of our rich flora and fauna, the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will significantly increase,” she said.
The GSCC statement further said the campaign group ‘Fridays For Future’, tracking these protests across the world, reported that 186 strikes were planned in Germany, followed by the USA with 126, Italy with 123, covering all inhabited continents and featuring events in Brazil, Iran, Japan, India, Ukraine and Russia.
NGO Greenpeace lauded the children for coming forward for the cause of climate change and expressed hope that policy-makers would listen to the younger generation.
“Seeing school children come out in huge numbers and confront the policy makers across the world and now in India makes me both happy and sad,” Greenpeace campaigner Sunil Dahiya said.
The need for such a protest, he said, tough underlines the inaction of “our generations to fight the global hazard of Climate Change”, the new generation acknowledging the challenge and deciding to fight it gave him hope.
“The young (people) have power and energy and I am sure that our policy makers will wake up at least now on seeing these kids on streets confronting them and stop wasting time, resources and public money by further investing in fossil fuels like coal and diesel,” Dahiya said.