Cyrus Engerer | Climate change, youth, and the new thunderous voice in politics

In the face of climate change deniers, it is time we pay heed to the young voices amongst us. It is time we empower the youth and provide them with the tools to work

Greta Thunberg and hundreds of thousands of young people, many still minors, have been participating in protests in London, Paris, Vienna, Hong Kong, Santiago, Cape Town, Ontario, Malta and all over the globe to save the world from climate change.

And the pressure is being felt as the UK parliament declares an environment and climate emergency. The thunderous voice of these youngsters is bringing climate change to the forefront of the international political agenda. They are saying that it is now time to panic and that no policy is as important as climate change. No other policy is needed if there is no planet to live on.

These young people are saying what older people are fearing to admit, or are unashamedly trying to contradict. However, the science has been there for decades now and the time left to do something meaningful is very short. Unless we keep the temperature from increasing more than 1.5 degrees Celsius of pre-industrial time, the repercussions felt will be huge.

Signs of these repercussions are already being felt. A good example is the situation in Mozambique whereby we have seen two cyclones in six weeks annihilating villages, leaving thousands without homes, bringing the onset of water-based diseases and leaving over a 1,000 people dead. This is a place that never had such frequency of cyclones. In Mongolia, climate change is forcing horse herders to abandon their lifestyles and their work which had passed from one generation to the next for hundreds of years and move to the capital city.

In such a huge country half of its population is living in Ulaanbaatar, the capital. This is resulting in immense respiratory problems in the population, especially amongst children who now have lungs 40% smaller than children growing up in the countryside.

It is fundamental that Europe leads in this sector. As several forces around the world are taking a step back on climate change, it is up to us Europeans to try and move the world forward. And this can be done both at national level and at EU level.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has emphasised that our vision should be one where in the future public transport is free for everyone and all newly bought cars are electric.

In the EU, we need to see more dossiers like the one Miriam Dalli championed on the CO2 emissions from cars, a dossier which earned her the title of eco-warrior by the journal Politico. With the EU setting targets and visions, member states will need to implement laws and programmes to address our climate crisis. For the love of our countries and for the love of our children, we must ensure there is a planet for them to live on.

In the face of climate change deniers, it is time we pay heed to the young voices amongst us. It is time we empower the youth and provide them with the tools to work.

This is why I am proposing that the EU provides free internet connection to its youth. This would be the most basic tool for the youth to research and innovate, to come up with new ideas, to change the world we are living in.

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