An international church development agency is asking children in India to play an active role in the battle against climate change by getting their communities involved in the struggle for a fully sustainable future.
The initiative comes from the UK-based NGO Christian Aid and its local partners. With the country one of those worst affected by global warming, an awareness raising campaign has been launched aimed at reaching 10,000 schools.
Pupils will be asked to think of ways that the impact of climate change can be reduced, and encouraged to pass the message on to their friends and neighbours.
"India is already feeling the effects of extreme weather conditions such as floods, cyclones and droughts caused by climate change," said Rajan Khosla, Christian Aid’s climate change expert in India.
"This campaign is focussing on children because we feel they are the best way of carrying the message on climate change to their families and their communities.
"Ultimately we hope they will help their schools and communities make changes in their everyday behaviour such as saving energy and using less water which will reduce the adverse impacts of climate change.’
Around 400 children and teachers from 50 schools were at the launch of the campaign in Chennai in Tamil Nadu in southern India, which was also attended by the Tamil Nadu Minister for Education and Minister for the Environment.
The children will be given a Climate Change Education Resource Kit including card games and posters developed by SEEDS. The kit aims to help them make small changes with the help of their parents, teachers and neighbours which will reduce the impact of climate change.
"It includes training tools for students and teachers such as quizzes so that they can better understand the effects of human actions on the environment and how climate change will affect India," said Mr Khosla.
The campaign will eventually reach schools in the states of Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Orissa and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world at present, but also a country feeling the current impacts of climate change such as desertification, more severe rainfall and flooding, stronger cyclones and glacier melt. Ironically, fuelling this development are climate change-causing carbon emissions.
"Young people have a vested interest in the climate change campaign for it is their future at stake," said Robin Greenwood, head of the Asia division at Christian Aid, who gave the welcome address.
‘If India’s young generation learns about ways to adapt, conserve energy and use clean energy sources for future development, they will feel that they have played a huge role in building a safer future not just for India but for their peers around the globe.’
Christian Aid works to strengthen poor communities’ ability to cope with inevitable changes in climate and believes that these responses should be financed by the rich, industrialised countries which bear the greatest responsibility for climate change and have the greatest ability to respond.