New Delhi: Climate change has wreaked havoc on people’s livelihoods and communities, with frequent and intense droughts, storms, heat waves, rising sea levels, melting glaciers, and warming oceans. What is important to realise is that the current occurrences have long-term effects on the younger generation. Therefore, it becomes imperative for young people to become valuable contributors to climate action, and many have committed themselves to bring about a change.
One such agent of change is Abhiir Bhalla, a 21-year-old youth environmentalist and sustainability consultant from Delhi. Working in the field of environmental conservation and sustainability for over eight years, Ms Bhalla advocates for the role of young people in climate action.
He is also the Youth Advisor at the Governing Board of the Children’s Health Environmental Coalition (CHEC). Mr Bhalla is currently producing the climate change podcast, known as ‘Candid Climate Conversations’, wherein he speaks to several scientists, activists, environmentalists, and other experts on the issues of climate change, ranging from air pollution to global warming.
Talking about how aware people are about climate change, Ms Bhalla said,
During my TED talks, when I ask young people or senior citizens what climate change means to them, either I am bombarded with names like Greta Thunberg or Al Gore or some environmental protests, such as the Chipko Movement. Many talk about that one image published by Nat Geo many years ago to showcase melting glaciers, with one polar bear struggling to climb on the piece of ice. This is one image that we immediately think of when we talk about climate change. But what’s beyond that?
Apart from the environment, the impacts of climate change are also seen on health, which he frequently discusses during his TED talks.
Health is one thing where climate change has real, tangible impacts for all of us without discrimination, on both rich and poor. While many people can afford to subside the problem by investing in various technologies, such as air purifiers, it is not an option for the masses.
Mr Bhalla said that the implications of climate change are evident around us in the form of intense heat waves, floods, droughts, etc. For example, Delhi witnessed intense heatwaves and then a flood-like situation during the monsoon season. The monsoons have become more erratic with time.”
In order to mitigate the climate crisis, changes at the policy level are required, and young people need to have a say on it, the 21-year-old said.
The policymakers and politicians who are in parliaments today, whether it is at the local level, national level, or in the UN, they won’t be there 20 years down the line when we are actually seeing the evils of the policies they are making today. And that is why young people need to have not just a seat at the table, which is increasingly improving, but also a say at the table.
Young people need to realise that they have the power to wield their vote, the sustainability consultant added. He further said,
The Universal Adult Franchise is the most important tool that we have, and I think in something as relevant and as large as climate change, it is going to be a very important tool in the years to come to recognise which parties or politicians will walk the talk on climate change and accordingly vote for them.
If adequate measures for climate change are not taken, the time is not far away when people will be living in a world where Antarctica has air pollution and North India is frozen like Antarctica. So to prevent a world of opposites and unnatural nature, people need to make the right choice by voting for the right policies and the right politicians, Abhiir Bhalla said.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – theLGBTQ population,indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the currentCOVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water,SanitationandHygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fightmalnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health,adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues likeair pollution,waste management,plastic ban,manual scavengingand sanitation workers andmenstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India wheretoiletsare used andopen defecation free (ODF)status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched byPrime Minister Narendra Modiin 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.