Why Repression of Climate Activists is Bad News for the  Endangered Planet of Earth

It is very sad that many reports of repression of climate activists are being received from several parts of world at such an early stage of climate activism. Even a very quick net search would reveal several recent instances from Brazil, Chile, Kenya, India , Russia and other countries.

These are reports where climate activism is directly mentioned. But if one looks more broadly at activities which are related to various aspects of checking climate change, then instances of activists facing repression and undue restrictions would be many more at world level.

In addition there are countries like Saudi Arabia and its neighbors  on the one hand  and China on the other hand where such activism is  needed more but cannot come forward due to overall highly authoritarian conditions. Even in some western countries particularly the USA  climate activism faces so many obstacles.

This is very bad news for our endangered planet as climate activism of young people and students., helped and guided also by some very senior persons including senior scientists,  has been emerging fast as one of few signs of hope that badly needed action on climate change may at last come due to the pressures exerted by the younger generation. But even this emerging hope may be crushed by repressive actions against those very young people who actually need the most encouragement and support.

After all what has the establishment, or the established authorities, achieved at world level? All evidence points outs that real achievements for checking climate change lag far behind what is needed.

Many senior scientists and reports and warnings prepared by them have testified to this. What is more, a perspective, a plan for achieving reduction of greenhouse gas emissions within a framework of justice, peace and democracy has not really emerged, which is really the biggest need.

Without such a clear perspective, as climate change advances towards tipping points, there can be desperate, hurried, unjustified, last-minute plunge towards high-risk solutions which may further increase problems. Holistic planning ,time-bound plans for checking climate change and related environmental problems in a framework of justice and peace, with responsibilities fixed and accepted, have not really emerged.

It is in this depressing and deeply worrying situation that  sections of the younger generation started getting more conscious about the seriousness of what increasingly appeared to be nothing less than a survival crisis( in the sense of the very life-nurturing  conditions of the plant being threatened). It is in the middle of this growing consciousness that climate activism among the young generation started to emerge. Hopefully this will broaden soon to include other serious aspects of the survival crisis so that peace with justice aspects are added more  adequately to this environmental movement.

In fact there are several questions that need to be considered and evolving an adequate response of people to the very serious survival crisis is a rather complex task at several levels, even though it is also the most urgent and creative one. So initially there may be some disagreements and questions, but there is no doubt at all that the climate activism of the younger generation is a very welcome sign of hope for humanity and for all life on earth.

So it is deeply troubling that the activists who deserve smiling garlands  of flowers are being given  cruel handcuffs of iron instead. How can the establishment be so cruel and insensitive?

This draws attention to the wider reality that the establishment and the established authorities including politicians and officials have not really  understood and comprehended that the urgency of the survival crisis requires  a new paradigm of progress, the need for pioneering a new pathway. Their response is often merely in terms of tweaking their system a little bit here and there, asking some experts to prepare some convenient reports on a few sporadic efforts, clearing a few more investment proposals on solar energy, favoring crony capitalists  more with solar project subsidies. Such sporadic actions by themselves will never go far enough in checking climate change and certainly not  the wider survival crisis as long as a paradigm shift is not considered, backed by even deeper efforts of changes in value systems and education.

So many ruling regimes  live in complacency of an entirely false sense of achievements regarding adequacy of their response of climate change. As far as the wider survival crisis is concerned there is no comprehension, not even acknowledgment and therefore  no response.

Hence when younger environmental activists and climate activists in particular speak a different language the establishment responds without understanding and in anger, leveling such strange charges as harming national interests or even giving bad name to country, and this actually reveals a complete lack of understanding of what young people are trying to say and of the new level of understanding at which they are speaking.

This is the wider context in which the utterly wrong response of establishments to the new activism of the younger people should be seen. To the extent this is possible, efforts involving senior persons should be made for better understanding to prevail. Perhaps retired senior  officials and scientists who understand the concerns of younger activists and who also have access to establishment decision makers can make more successful efforts in this direction. In addition, of course,  citizens should come forward much more to support young climate activists .

Bharat Dogra is a journalist and author. His recent books include Protecting Earth For Children and Planet in Peril.


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