‘India is 7th most vulnerable country’
Licypriya Kangujam, born on October 2, 2011, is a child environmental activist from Assam. She is one of the youngest climate activists globally. She has addressed the United Nations Climate Conference 2019 (COP25) held in Madrid, Spain and appealed to the world leaders to take immediate actions…
Q: At what age did you first become interested in climate change?
When I was just four, I accompanied my dad to raise funds for the victims of deadly massive Nepal Earthquake of 2015 where more than 10,000 people had died & thousands of people got injured. We went to Nepal all the way from India by road to drop food stuffs, medicines, clothes, etc. for the victim’s children and families. It was the first time that I learnt words like ‘Climate Change’ & ‘Natural Disasters’, but couldn’t realize the fatality attached to them. But one thing that I did realized was that we don’t treat our planet with love and respect it deserved! In July 2018, when I was just 6 years old, I got a chance to attend one United Nations Disaster Conference in Mongolia. I got lots of Inspiration and new knowledge from the people who spoke at the conference. It was my life changing event. After returning from Mongolia, I started my organization called ‘The Child Movement’ to call upon the world leaders to take urgent climate-related actions to save our planet and our future. As a part of my movement, I have travelled to more than countries.
Q: Do you have any ideas or plans to educate Indians about the negative consequences of climate change?
In India, air pollution, extreme heat waves, frequent flood and droughts, cyclones, etc. are common signs of climate change. These are mainly results due to cutting down of millions of tress in our forests, construction of huge dam in rivers, destruction of nature for developmental activities and lack of transparency in our leaders. For example, I hope everyone knows about Majuli Island of Assam in North East India. This rich biodiversity hotspot is going to be lost completely by 2040 due to climate change. This largest river island in the world – our pride - has been devastated by frequent floods in Brahmaputra River. Total area of Majuli in 1890 was 1500 square kilometers, but is now only 520 sq-km. No one panicked till today. Recent super cyclones like Amphan displaced more than seven millions people and hundreds of people were killed. India is the seventh most vulnerable country in the world to climate change. And also you can see in Delhi, how air pollution is too dangerous. Even children can’t move outside of their homes. I am worried about the health of the school children and babies. Government announces holidays, but this is not a solution. Our leaders are just busy in blaming each other instead of finding a long term solution. I want our leaders to undertake more actions. Otherwise our future will be bleak. They must act now. I also request to our government to include Climate Change as a compulsory subject in our school education curriculum and also students must plant minimum 10 trees in a year in order to pass their final exams. In India we have 350 million students. If 350 million students plant 10 trees every year then we will plant 3.5 billion trees a year. Trust me! India will be green in five years. I have very good news for everyone. I got an email from Rajasthan & Gujarat Government that they will be the first state in India to include climate change as a compulsory subject after my request. From 0 to 1,45,596 schools will starts climate change as a compulsory subject in school curriculum. Then, this will be followed by other states and India will become the first in Asia and second in the world taking such initiative after Italy in the history. This is the real change we want!
Q: Are the measures taken by the government to reduce the consequences of climate change satisfactory?
India’s population and emissions are rising fast, and its ability to tackle poverty without massive fossil fuel use will decide the fate of the planet. The present government failed to address the voice of young people rising to fight the climate crisis. Air Pollution can’t be address currently. Also rising carbon emissions from vehicles and industries peak every day. Cutting pollution also cuts carbon emissions, but filthy air is not the only incentive to act. Unchecked global warming will hit India hard, increasing extreme weather like the floods that killed thousands every year, and affecting the monsoon upon which India’s farmers depend. Heatwaves already cause thousands of deaths in India and rising temperatures that make outdoor work impossible have already seen the labour equivalent to about half a million people lost since 2000. But in coming decades, heatwaves could reach a level of humid heat classed as posing “extreme danger” for three-quarters of the population. But India’s vast population means that even small increases in emissions per person add up to a huge amount of carbon dioxide and India is likely to become the world’s biggest polluter. There is no specific law or policy to address the above-mentioned burning climate issues. Until today, only five countries viz. New Zealand, Australia, UK, Mexico & Peru have their legislation on climate change but 98% still don’t, including India. We are marching to call on world leaders to enact climate law as soon as possible so that it can regulate the emissions of greenhouse gases to save our planet and our future. They must unite and act now before it’s too late.
Q: As a climate activist, tell us what you like.
I am planning to taken up a new initiative called Green Olympic Game. Green Olympic Game is an Initiative taken by me to transform Olympic game into a green Sustainable and carbon neutral competition. I first planned to launch it in the Tokyo Olympic Game 2020 from July 27 to August 8 in Japan, but corona virus stalled the plans. In my event, there will be no firecrackers, zero carbon emissions, and no single used plastics during the Olympics games. This will be another new chapter in the history of the World. The 5 main charters of Green Olympic Game are: Host Country (Japan Government) to calculate and offset all emissions associated with the organizing and running the Olympics; All transportation to and from the Olympic facilities to be emissions-free; Each Olympic athlete to be given the chance to plant a tree (which means total 10,000 trees); No single used plastics will be allowed at any of the venues; Using of drone display, laser and sound light show only instead fireworks show in the opening and closing ceremony of Olympics.
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