Why should climate change be top of mind for young people – and especially in Europe?

by Selina Leem

A dear friend of mine expressed her anger about how not only our country, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, but also the rest of the world is only responding to climate change now. She was skeptical about our country’s attempt of banning Styrofoam and about those who do not know what climate change is and therefore cannot explain the disasters that are happening. But there was one thing she said that really hit me: “It is already too late, there is nothing we can do about it anymore.”

I am telling you, however, that when our country joined the global movement to fight against climate change, this was not an act of desperation or a sign of vulnerability. It was the move of a fighter. This significant effort means that there is hope still brimming amid these wave-raddled islanders. Corruption, greed, and poor governance have brought us where we are today. Now we, the youth, as leaders of today and of tomorrow, have a duty to take a stand in this fight against climate change.

My country, even with all its efforts to address climate change, will only have a small effect on the reduction of carbon emission in the atmosphere for we contribute so little of it. However, Europe and the rest of the world contribute a huge amount to the carbon emissions into the air. As youth of your country, your continent, you have a duty to push your leaders to prioritize this issue.

We are already facing climate change and we are at a critical point now. In 2050, my islands are predicted to be submerged by water. But it will not just be us, it will also be our neighboring sister nations and other nations around the globe. Many other parts of the world are already affected by climate change and especially minority groups, the groups without a loud voice, such as children, women, and indigenous people are suffering immensely.

We want global justice and we ask that you join us in ensuring we get what rightfully should be ours.

There is little time left and we urge you to act!

Selina Leem is a small island girl with big dreams from the island of Majuro in the Marshall Islands: “Sometimes when you want to make a change, then it is necessary to turn the world upside down because it is just not for the better, but it is simply for the best.”

See also: Selina’s closing remarks to the UN at COP21

Selina Leem. Photo credit: Hasan E. Muhammad
Selina Leem. Photo credit: Hasan E. Muhammad

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