By Sheridan Williamson-Fraser
Youth protest the lack of action in combating climate change during the COP26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland.
Third year Environment and Urban Sustainability student at X-University, Matisse Buteau, 20, says young people’s voices have the power to drive public awareness.
“Young people creating change by using our voices is so important,” says Buteau. “You are never too young or too inexperienced to start. Share any knowledge you have with everyone you know and don’t be afraid to share what you know.”
Throughout this past week, thousands of youth activists protested for climate change at the summit during COP26.
“I think there’s a lot of really good people trying to get the awareness out,” said Buteau in response to the global protests centered around the climate conference. “People are wanting others to become aware and so I think this being in the media is showing that it’s really meaningful and it’s really important to a lot of people”
Senior Climate Change Adaption Specialist with ESSA Technologies, Jimena Eyzaguirre, says the deterioration of the climate is inspiring the next generation of young people to become advocates.
“The evidence is becoming very clear that the impacts of climate change are already happening so current and future generations will be greatly affected,” she said. “I think that evidence and that lived experience is what kind of triggered outrage among youth and rightly so”.
According to the United Nations document, ‘Increasing Youth Participation in Climate Action’, young people are worried about the lack of public knowledge and want to be included in decision-making.
How can youth make an impact?
Eyzaguirre says youth can make a change by focusing their efforts on everyday household activities, engaging with the democratic system, and holding organizations and governments accountable for their actions.
“If the activism is sort of redirected towards specific national or more locally relevant things that need to happen it’ll be more effective,” she said. “I think in general both short and long term it’s really important that activists youth and otherwise keep the pressure on to keep governments and other actors accountable”.
Eyzaguirre recommends eating less or no meat and cutting down air travel.
Young people can also join protests and climate initiatives to inspire public awareness, Buteau says.