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11-year-old climate activist Ridhima Pandey on fighting climate change

It was back in 2013 that Ridhima Pandey, one of India’s young environmental activists, saw the devastating effect of climate change in India in the form of the Kedarnath flood. Seeing such an environmental disaster unfolding before your very eyes can change a person, and sure enough, Ridhima was the only young activist from India who accompanied Greta Thunberg in the protest the lax attitude of governments towards climate change at the UN Climate Action Summit.” I am here because I want all the global leaders to do something to stop climate change because if it’s not going to be stopped it’s going to harm our future,” she had said. “So if we want to stop global warming we have to do something now.”The historical act of sixteen child petitioners — aged 8 to 17 — from 12 countries around the world presenting an official complaint to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child was an eye-opener for the world and did much to bring the topic of climate change to the front page. The rising temperature with its recent droughts is threatening the river Ganga in Haridwar with lowering water levels. The rainy season also sees infrequent but heavy rains leading to the dangers of flooding in the Ganga. The devastating rainstorm in Haridwar and the resulting Kedarnath flood in 2013 is what changed Ridhima’s life forever. Here’s what the young climate activist told us about filing a petition against NGT, the steps India should take, and what we as individuals can do to fight climate change.

So where does 11-year-old Ridhima get her spark from? Both her parents are working for forest and wildlife conservation and understandably, environment protection is a prime topic of discussion at home. She adds that media also plays a role in her awareness considering the growing reportage on the environment, even though it is nearly not enough. Nevertheless, young people across the world are waking up leading to climate change protests in various regions across the world. The awareness is definitely increasing. In late September, the world stood in awe as young school students took the helm and millions of people joined the climate march in various cities in countries across the world — from New York to Cape Town, Sydney to Manila, and Dhaka to London. In India, climate march protests by youngsters sprung up in Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Chennai, etc. To do our bit for the planet and fight climate change, it is highly important to lower our carbon footprint as much as possible. A carbon footprint is a measure of climate change impact of any person, organisation, event, or product and each of us can change our lifestyle and consumption patterns to make sure we are putting the least amount of pressure on the environment.” Everyone should implement such changes in their daily life and they can also use public transport more,” adds the class 8 student. Ridhima hit the headlines in 2017 when the then-9-year-old filed a petition in the National Green Tribunal against the government for failing to take action on climate change, highlighting the growing concern over pollution and environmental degradation in the country.

The tribunal had said the authorities acting under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 have to perform their obligation of impact assessment as per statutory scheme which has not been challenged in her plea. The matter is now before the Supreme Court.”It has not come to hearing now, it’s still pending in Supreme Court,” Ridhima says. So how did someone so young manage to take such a step?” I wanted to do something to save our future and asked my father what I should do. After that, my father consulted with our lawyer and they decided to file a petition in NGT in my name,” she says. It’s high time the Indian government takes the necessary steps to crack down on our problem areas. However, the average Indian has a very low carbon footprint compared to first-world citizens. How much responsibility does India really bear to balance the scales of environmental impact?”Yes, but we must also accept that India is one of the most vulnerable countries to adverse impacts of climate change, and we are already seeing the impacts — the floods in Kerala, erratic rainfall, sea-level rise etc.” she says.”Therefore, India needs to have a strict science-based action plan which is to be implemented in a time-bound manner,” says Ridhima Pandey. When she isn’t studying, Ridhima loves to play with animals, dance, and sing. She also likes reading moral stories.”My short term goals are to make as many people aware about climate change as possible and my long term goals are working for animals and protecting our environment,” smiles the young climate activist.

(Text Source: India Today)

Tags: Ridhima Pandey  |  Activist  |  Climate Change  |  UN Climate Action Summit  |  Climate Activist  |  Global Warming  | Children vs Climate Crisis