Delhi-NCR students join 'Fridays For Future' climate change protest
"I can't breathe. Should I stop going to school?" "Kids need clean air". "No more excuses"
New Delhi: "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 that Delhi-NCR students carried as they joined the global "Fridays for Future" protest aimed at urging governments and authorities to address problem relating to climate change.
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 on Friday, a statement from the Global Strategic Communications Council (GSCC) said.
In Delhi-NCR, over 500 students aged between 10 and 16 years, skipped schools to be a part of the protest here. "Climate change is the millennial 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 of 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."