BENGALURU: This Friday, Haritha Rao G has a busy day planned ahead of her. The 21-year-old student will spend the day preparing posters and motivating others to join her at the global climate strike being held in the city on September 20. Rao has even decided to take the day off from attending classes in order to prepare for the event. “There’s no point in me doing a Masters in Botany if the planet doesn’t exist in five years,” she exclaims.
Like Rao, many other youngsters will take to Sir Puttanna Chetty Town Hall on Friday at 5pm to express their concern. The strike, which is in line with Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg’s initiative to spread awareness about the issue, will take place in 15 other cities in India and over 133 countries across the globe.
“It is a peaceful protest where students leave their school, people leave their work and ask governments to take action towards the climate emergency that we are part of,” explains Dr Nimisha Agarwal, senior campaigner at Jhatkaa.org, which is organising the strike on Friday. Besides the strike, panel discussions, film screenings and lake cleanup drives will also be held from September 20 to 27 in association with other movements like Fridays For Future India and Extinction Rebellion.
The strike has so far gained interest from over 1,000 participants in the city. This includes 18-year-old Anwesa Chaudhury, who will take part in the hope of seeing some positive policy change towards the current climactic situations. “The one change I’m really hoping the government pays attention to is emission control. This would help reduce greenhouse gases,” says the student, who has recently released a song on global warming on YouTube.
Indian protesters will likely focus on air pollution, says Agarwal. “The issues we would like to focus on include the government commissioning more plants, resulting in a 1.4 per cent parallel rise in emissions; India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) not yet fulfilling the commitment of renewable energy generation and Hasdeo Arand forests being given environmental clearance for coal mining,” she explains, adding that phasing out fossil fuels is need of the hour for India.
Chetna Santosh, a 14-year-old student who will also participate in the strike, believes initiatives like these might help activists be more heard. “We need to spread awareness that climate change is real and we need the government to do more about this,” she says, adding that indiscriminate tree-felling in Bengaluru is one issue the state government needs to pay more attention to.
Agreed Rao, who adds that those between 15 and 25 years are the ones most affected by the current scenario. “We’re all at that stage where we are trying to figure out our future. All of that depends on how and where we are living,” she says.