A sixteen-year-old crusader of climate change, Aman Sharma might not just be a regular teenager. A Delhi-based student, Aman has demanded government action on issues of climate change garnering international support and recognition.
Thanking the YKA Summit Aman said, “I am really thankful that kids are getting to speak at forums on issues that actually matter.” An avid bird watcher and wildlife photographer, he defines himself as a climate activist: a young person who consistently advocates for the environment, climate action and climate justice.
Aman credits the complex ecosystem surrounded by numerous species as the reason for his unparalleled admiration for nature. However, expressing his sorrow, he said, “The more I fell in love with nature, the more it broke my heart because it kept becoming more difficult for me to see what the leaders were doing to the world, their own world.” Expressing his absolute grief at the current toxic situation of the world, he continued, “All we are doing is killing the one planet we have.”
Initiating the ‘Bird Watching Club’, he wants to share his admiration for the country’s natural history with like-minded people, “Historically the Indian ethos has always been about a deeply aesthetic environment and considered sacred. The toxic debate of environment vs development is something that is fed to us by our political leaders.”
Aman blames the growing disconnection from nature to urbanisation, profits and business,
“If anyone tells you development can be achieved only by sacrificing nature, they are lying to you.”
Citing the example of California, which has the strictest environmental rules, it was apprehended that the economy would collapse, jobs would fall short, development and progress would cease to exist. But 13 years on, California stands as one of the largest economies of both the States and the world. “Greenwashing, smart PR and blatant lies that go around by our leaders are only to distract us from the real problems.”
Talking about the unfortunate statistics, Aman states how no one talks about the fact that Delhi is one of the most polluted cities in the world, how children are dying, or how 11/15 hottest cities are in India, or how India has had the largest climate-related deaths in 2018. He disregards the claims of development not going hand-in-hand with nature,
“How can India become a developed nation if its rivers are full of plastic and poison instead of fish and water?”
India is experiencing an existential crisis. From cyclones, heat waves, to water-logging and floods, all corners of India are undergoing extreme climate events, Aman states one single phenomenon as the primary reason: climate change. According to the World Bank, India is highly vulnerable to climate change catastrophe due to the high inequality and social conditions of the nation.
Aman shares that it all started with a petition on change.org to declare a national climate emergency, bringing about 33% green cover, a third of Paris Agreement and limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. His actions garnered immense international action and appreciation from celebrities.
He believes that climate change is still a taboo topic as Indians have “not woken up to the urgency of the situation”, he states, “climate change is real and it is impacting people.” Talking about ‘Fridays for Future’, Aman applauds the mass mobilisation towards climate action. He says, “Our politicians are still in denial, our corporates hate us.” Expressing his concern he continues, “We don’t want to inherit a dying planet.”
He asks the audience to not be proud of young activists rather be ashamed that children have to step up for activism. “Children are the most affected yet have least contributed to it.”
Aman blames the leaders who have failed to take action; he blames them for failing to put people over pockets. He urges for a place for the youth at decision-making tables. He says,
“I am sacrificing my childhood to save the childhood of the future generation.”
Expressing his conviction he asks the audience, “If not us, then who will? If not now, then when?” He points out at the abundance of science, research and brain and the utter lack of political and public will. He urges the audience to make 2019 the year of transformation and the year of change.
He applauds Greta’s power of mass mobilisation and asks everyone to come together towards a common goal of reversing climate change, “Issues that matter to you will matter to the leaders.”
He also asks the audience to get together to bring about a socio-political narrative, “Don’t be an eco-warrior, be an eco-protector”
Aman says waiting for others to save us is the biggest failure of history; thus, he asks us to not wait and take matters into our own hands.