‘If Not Now, Then When?’: A Parent Demands Climate Justice for Her Kids at COP28

As a parent, I feel immensely anxious about the kind of world that I’ll be leaving my children in.

Climate Change
4 min read
Hindi Female

Days before COP28 was to be held in Dubai, I read that, in 2023, we breached the 1.5 degree Celsius temperature threshold globally. 

This should not have come as a surprise. We’ve been experiencing drastic weather events. We are far away from negotiating the phasing out of fossil fuels.

And we are still not embracing sustainability as we should. I mean, how sustainable are electric vehicles really if the source of electricity is still coal?

Over the years, in the many COPs that have been held, we still haven’t achieved anything pathbreaking. After years of campaigning for what is our right, we are still met with greenwashing. 

With a lot of big battles to fight on our way, parents need to raise their voices and assert that we are equal stakeholders in the climate crisis. It's our next generation’s future that is at stake.


Parental Anxiety Triggered by Climate Change

As a parent, I feel immensely anxious about the kind of world that I’ll be leaving my children in. What will happen in the future? How will they survive? How can we help them?

What we, as parents, can do in our capacity, is quite minimal. We can teach our children about sustainability, we can give up our cars, we can avoid single-use plastic. But will that make any difference when a thermal power plant still has a 1000 times more emissions?

What we need to do is remind our global leaders that they are parents too. That we are all serious stakeholders in this crisis. That we will make this an electoral issue.

We will ask our Union Health Minister why he did not make a single comment on air pollution, this entire winter season, or why no delegation from India attended the Health Day at COP28.

As a parent, I feel immensely anxious about the kind of world that I’ll be leaving my children in.

Bhavreen Kandhari at COP28 in UAE.

(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)

People at powerful positions are not making the climate a priority still. But citizens need to demand better air, cleaner air, and a healthier life and environment for their children. This is what drives people and groups like ours.

In fact, new research carried out by the Potential Energy Coalition and the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, across 23 countries, shows that most climate activists are raising their voices because they want to safeguard the future of their children.

The study says:

“While policy and political leaders often focus on messages like green jobs, economic prosperity, ending injustice and even fighting the costs of extreme weather, the data gives a clear signal that there is a better message to grow the overall size of support. Across every country, love for the next generation was the dominant reason for action on climate change.”

The Few Positives That Emerged at COP28

Even as we need global leaders to put in more efforts and prioritise climate, there have been a few baby steps that we were able to achieve at this year’s summit.

  • A Loss & Damage account was finally opened.

  • For the first time, a day was dedicated to understand how climate impacts health and ‘Health Day’ was officially observed.

  • More and more countries were finally talking about phasing out fossil fuels.

But again, these are all still baby steps. There’s a long road ahead.
As a parent, I feel immensely anxious about the kind of world that I’ll be leaving my children in.

Now the first world countries actually need to compensate by pouring in funds into the Loss & Damage account.

The Global South deserves fair compensation as they suffer the most from a crisis that the developed countries have contributed to majorly. And, global leaders need to emphasise more on the correlation between health and climate. 


What We Want the World To Know

  • Children are on the frontline in this climate crisis. It is their futures (and present) that are at stake as climate disasters multiply. As we mentioned in our campaign at COP28, 

“A staggering one billion children today are at ‘extremely high risk’ of severe impacts from the climate crisis. The youngest children are the most vulnerable. According to the Children’s Environment Rights Initiative, 88 percent of diseases associated with climate change are borne by children under five.” 
  • Fossil fuels need to be phased out, they contribute to nearly 90 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions globally. The health of children worldwide is at risk as chronic and respiratory diseases are likely to increase, as children continue to breathe polluted air.

  • It’s time to transition towards renewable energy. NOW. It is possible, it is feasible, and it’s the need of the hour.

As a parent, I feel immensely anxious about the kind of world that I’ll be leaving my children in.
As the IPCC says, “There is a rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all.” For our children’s future, we ask: If not now, then when?

(Bhavreen Kandhari is the co-founder of Warrior Moms – a group that brings mothers together across India to call for clean air for the sake of their children’s health. She attended COP28 in Dubai between 30 November and 10 December. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)

(As told to Garima Sadhwani)

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Topics:  Climate Change   Cop 

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