According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the last eight years have been the hottest ever recorded. 2022 was characterised by unprecedented, record-breaking extreme weather events that have killed thousands and displaced millions of people worldwide. Global warming is worsening and it is affecting a generation that’s equally frightened, angry, and inspired to make a change. In a recent study, 59% and 84% of young people reported feeling extremely or moderately worried about climate change, respectively. Another 45% felt climate change negatively impacts their lives, while 75% worry about their future. However, despite their fear, today’s youth aren’t sitting idly as the planet goes up in flames. Instead, they have realised that collective youth climate action plays a pivotal role in shaping a more sustainable future. 

Young Climate Action: Youth Leaders for a Healthier Planet

Since Greta Thunberg spearheaded the 2019 Global Week for Future march for climate change, encouraging millions of young people to participate, several youth leaders have made waves for a greener, healthier, and more stable world.

Tahsin Uddin from Bangladesh may only be in his early twenties, but he has been a climate activist since he was 12, when he started a magazine called Lal Sabuj. The magazine allows children and teens to share how climate change impacts them and deliver solutions. He also runs the Lal Sabuj Society, protecting women and children from the consequences of climate change, participating in clean-ups, providing skills development, and teaching debate tactics.

Vanessa Nakate from Uganda recently spoke at the COP27, urging leaders to end funding fossil fuels, greenwashing, and making trivial politics a priority. As more consumers transform their habits to reduce energy consumption, many have looked for cleaner alternatives to power homes, businesses, and vehicles.

In the US, 15-year-old Ollie Perrault founded Youth Climate Action Now, focusing on state policy changes that support sustainable local farms and a composting program.

These youth climate activists are only three out of the millions who have taken politicians and the global population to task for combatting climate change. 

A recent study suggests that children born in 2020 will undergo two to seven times more extreme climate change events in their lifetimes compared to those born in 1960. Youth climate action aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to counter the severe threats to future generations.

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How Young People Can Create a Sustainable Future

There are many ways young people can participate in climate action for a sustainable future. Here are five examples of climate action initiatives. 

1. Join a March

Marching for climate change is an excellent way to raise awareness in numbers. Whether walking in the People’s Climate March in Washington D.C. or participating in a local rally, large events with numerous participants could get ample news coverage. 

These particular rallies are most effective when the local community gathers for a regional climate change issue. Organize a march and invite others to join you in your mission to help the planet.

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2. Educate Others

Educating others about climate change is integral to getting more people informed and on board with climate change and eco-friendliness.

Visit schools and read age-appropriate climate change books to children. Sign up to be a speaker at an event describing how climate change affects you and your community. 

You might also create social media posts to extend your audience reach with accurate information about an environmental topic you’re passionate about. Another idea is to post content with sustainable lifestyle tips for reducing one’s carbon footprint.

3. Volunteer in Your Community

Volunteering is a great way to get involved in youth climate action in your community. Join an organization or visit your town’s Public Works department for information regarding upcoming clean-ups.

Assisting during natural disasters and fundraising for natural disaster relief can also help those significantly impacted by climate change weather impacts. 

4. Eat a Plant-Based Diet

The latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) highlights the environmental and health benefits of transitioning to a plant-based diet

Youth can help offset climate change impacts by eating predominantly vegetarian or vegan. The report shows that plant-based diets decrease greenhouse gas emissions and promote animal welfare, less land degradation, and greater nutrition without pesticides and fertilisers.

Other studies show that plant-based diets can reduce emissions by 61% in high-income nations. 

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5. Promote Policy Changes

Change can only occur when politicians enact new environmental legislation. Therefore, youth climate action entails calling up your representatives and speaking to them about concerns and solutions for climate change.

According to Pew Research Center, 64% of Americans believe climate change should be a top political issue. However, there are disparities between political parties, with liberal-leaning politics keener to focus on environmental issues facing our planet today.

Nevertheless, engaging with local leaders respectfully and encouraging more robust policies to mitigate greenhouse gases is the most effective way youth can create a more sustainable future. 

The Youth Are the Future

The health of our planet is in young people’s capable hands. With their steadfast determination and hopefulness, we may still see an earth where climate change is o longer the risk it poses today.

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