When Licypriya Kangujam took the stage at COP25 in Madrid, Spain, on Tuesday, there was a brief confusion. The eight-year-old child climate activist from India paused for a minute, before stepping back, as an organiser stepped in to help adjust the podium and the microphone to her height.
Hailing from Bashikhong in Manipur, Licypriya is one of the youngest speakers at the 2019 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change being held in Madrid from December 2. The climate activist was earlier in the news for spending weeks in front of Parliament with a placard, urging Prime Minister Narendra Modi and MPs to pass climate change law to control and regulate the emission of carbon.
While TIME magazine’s Person of the Year Greta Thunberg from Sweden is the most recognisable young climate activist, here are our very own child climate activists from India making the world sit up and take action against climate change.
Licypriya Kangujam, 8
Eight-year-old Licypriya Kangujam from India dropped out of school to pursue her passion—to fight the battle against climate change. Activism, including participating in a weekly protest outside the Parliament house, takes up most of her time.
This child climate activist from India has already spoken in 21 countries on climate change. One of her demands is that the Narendra Modi government pass a climate change law in India. She delivered her first such speech at a public event when she was six, at the Asia Ministerial Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, in June 2018. She spoke about the threat of natural disasters due to the climate crisis and the need for governments around the world to act.
Ridhima Pandey, 12
Ridhima, studying in Class 8, hit the headlines in 2017 when she filed a petition in the National Green Tribunal against the Indian government for failing to take action on climate change, highlighting the growing concern over pollution and environmental degradation in the country.
She was among 16 children, including Thunberg, who filed a complaint to protest the lack of government action on the climate crisis at the United Nations Climate Action Summit earlier this year.
Hailing from Uttarakhand, the 12-year-old says her mission is to “save the future.” In her petition, filed through her legal guardian, Ridhima had contended that India is one of the most vulnerable countries to adverse climate change impact and had asked the court to order the government to assess industrial projects for climate-related issues, prepare a “carbon budget” to limit carbon dioxide emissions, and create a national climate recovery plan.
“I don’t think our government is fulfilling all of its Paris agreement [climate] responsibilities,” she says, pointing out India’s continuing dependence on fossil fuels.
Aditya Mukarji, 15
Aditya started campaigning to get people to stop using plastic straws at the beginning of 2018. At the age of 13 he went round cafes and restaurants persuading them to swap plastic straws for eco-friendly alternatives. The teenager now promotes alternatives to plastic, campaigns against trees being cut down and supports the climate strikes.
While volunteering for New Delhi-based Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group, that works on waste segregation and environmental solutions, he had taken up upon himself to phase out plastic straws in various hotels and restaurants, switching them with eco-friendly paper straws. He undertook the 18 month-long initiative to eliminate 25 million plastic straws and other single-use plastics from the ecosystem.
Due to his immeasurable efforts to campaign against plastic usage, conservation of forests, and climate strikes, he was invited to be a part of the UN Youth Climate Action Summit in September.
Before attending the UN Youth Climate Action Summit, Aditya took part in the climate change march organised by Greta Thunberg in Foley Square, New York, on September 20. The protest saw a gathering of at least 60,000 young people emerging out to protest against the inability of officials to do anything to address the climate change issue.
This child climate activist from India was seen carrying a banner which read, “Climate emergency is now. When will you act?”