I am a young environmentalist because to me, as a young person, it makes sense to be one. In recent years, the face of climate action has changed. Young activists, people such as Xiye Bastida, Isra Hirsi, Alexandria Villaseñor and Greta Thunberg, have acted out and spoken up courageously about the environmental issues that face our generation, present and future. These young people are a voice for a generation that, up until a few years ago, was excluded from the climate conversation. Without these activists who inspire and motivate, young people wouldn’t have a seat at the table. It feels only right to join the fight.

I only woke up to the facts when these activists that I’ve mentioned fought for their respective platforms. These people were excluded from the conversation because they were young. Now that the floor has been opened up for us, it feels like an obligation to be a young environmentalist, one which I am more than happy to carry out. I was raised in a very environmentally conscious family who taught me the impact that our actions have on the environment, and so when I started my secondary school education it seemed like a logical next step for me.

I believe that, if given the information and opportunities, all young people would become environmentalists. From what I’ve gathered from conversations with my friends I believe that many people are hesitant to attempt to do something to help the environment because they don’t know how to help, and they don’t think that anything they do will make a difference. However, it’s important to remember that everything you do makes a difference, no matter how big or small that difference is, and that there is only so much a young person can do, especially in the world we’re living in today. Not every young person could afford to miss school every Friday to strike for climate action, as much as they might have wanted to. Not every young person can go vegan or vegetarian either, for many different reasons. You can still be an environmentalist without doing these things. Being a young environmentalist provides you with the tools and opportunities you need. Young people have already succeeded in increasing global awareness of the climate challenges we face and it’s important that we continue to draw attention to this persisting crisis and don’t despair. The climate action initiative of young people in Ireland is not going unnoticed by our government. The Youth Assembly on Climate on November 15, 2019 is a good example of this, and proves that our voices can be heard. Why should anyone stop now?

As an environmentalist, I understand that these important indications of our personal commitment to a better world are the starting point for us to apply more pressure on governments to accept their responsibilities to address global challenges, like significantly reducing our dependence on fossil fuels or preventing mass deforestation and protecting our environment. Young people have already played an extremely important role in heightening awareness around climate challenges and we will continue to apply as much pressure as we can, because all our futures are at risk.