Governments must protect children and youth from climate crisis

CONCERNING. Smoke billows from chimneys of the cooling towers of a coal-fired power plant in Dadong, Shanxi province, China, Dec. 3, 2009. Frans Timmermans, the European Union’s climate chief, expressed concern over the expansion of China’s coal industry at a conference in Beijing on Monday, July 3, 2023.
CONCERNING. Smoke billows from chimneys of the cooling towers of a coal-fired power plant in Dadong, Shanxi province, China, Dec. 3, 2009. Frans Timmermans, the European Union’s climate chief, expressed concern over the expansion of China’s coal industry at a conference in Beijing on Monday, July 3, 2023.

As the rainy season starts in the Philippines, Filipinos will be again soaked by the harsh reality where floods, diseases, destruction of homes, and strong typhoons are part of the the norm as we live in an era of worsening climate crisis.

We know that climate change is because of global warming.

But as we enter an epoch where typhoons become stronger, droughts are more devastating, and their impact on vulnerable countries and communities become harsher, the United Nations Secretary-General called it “global boiling”

Winners and losers

Yes, even in times of crisis, there are still winners.

This is the industry that birthed this crisis in the first place. The planet-wrecking industry continues to make off-the-chart profits at the expense of vulnerable communities and the future of children and young people.

The segments of our society who are already vulnerable and disadvantaged from the beginning are the most affected during times like these.

This is why the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child recently released authoritative guidance for states to protect the rights of children for a healthy and balanced environment, particularly in the context of climate change.

The UN Committee also called on the states to not only protect the rights of children today but also in the foreseeable future. This means mitigating future damage to the environment to ensure that youth, children, and future generations will still enjoy a healthy and livable planet.

There has been a consensus among the scientific community that children and young people are the biggest casualties of the climate crisis.

But not just victims

But it is also important to recognize that youth and children are not just victims of the climate crisis, but also leaders, who have a prophetic voice - as the voice of the future.

Before the pandemic hindered big gatherings and mobilizations, children and youth went to the streets to demand action from government leaders to take decisive action in the fight against climate change.

A recent document from one of the biggest oil and gas companies revealed that they feared the protests might bring an end to their industry.

Protect children, phase-out fossil fuel

The problem of climate change is simple arithmetic a child can understand.

But it’s interesting why governments can’t make the most humane, logical, and obvious thing to do.

If governments are indeed sincere about their vocal commitments to protect children’s rights, they will address the biggest threat against them - climate change.*

***

Joshua Villalobos is a youth climate activist from Negros Occidental, Philippines. For questions and comments, reach out to him at joshuaovillalobos@su.edu.ph

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