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COP27: Meet Licypriya Kangujam, India's youngest environmental activist who calls for climate compensation

Sharm El-Sheikh, EgyptEdited By: Sneha SwaminathanUpdated: Nov 13, 2022, 09:31 PM IST

Photograph:(PTI)

Story highlights

In a first, "loss and damage" payments are on the climate summit's agenda. They have been demanded by dozens of developing countries, many of which are in South Asia, who argue that affluent nations should foot the bill for previous emissions, which are the primary driver of current climate change. The United States, which had earlier opposed the plan, now claims to be amenable to talks.

Licypriya Kangujam, born and brought up in India, has already felt the impact of climate change. The 11-year-old asserts that rich and powerful countries like the United States have a responsibility to make up for the "loss and destruction" experienced by less powerful countries like hers. As one of the youngest participants in this month's United Nations climate negotiations in Egypt, Licy, as she is fondly called, is one of India's most outspoken and youngest climate campaigners.

“My generation is the victim of climate change, but I don’t want our future generations to face the consequences of inaction by our leaders,” she told NBC News by phone from Sharm el-Sheikh, a Red Sea resort town in Egypt, where leaders and diplomats from almost 200 countries are gathered for the summit, known as COP27.

“This is a fight for the future of our planet — our future.”

In a first, "loss and damage" payments are on the climate summit's agenda. They have been demanded by dozens of developing countries, many of which are in South Asia, who argue that affluent nations should foot the bill for previous emissions, which are the primary driver of current climate change. The United States, which had earlier opposed the plan, now claims to be amenable to talks.

Licy, who raised funds for her travel to COP27 by selling tea and coffee at a market booth in New Delhi, said she intends to hold the governments there accountable.

“Our leaders keep giving beautiful speeches,” she said. “They keep blaming each other for climate change and fail to take up collective efforts."

WATCH | 30 Egyptians protest outside COP27 Summit, demand protection of coral reefs

In the eastern state of Odisha in India, where Licy previously resided, storm and subsequent floods claimed the lives of dozens of people. She decided to become a climate activist as a result of the calamity.

Licy and her family migrated to New Delhi the next year where she and her younger sister were able to access higher schooling thanks to the relocation, but the city's air quality, which has been dubbed the most polluted capital in the world, was a problem for them.

On social media platforms like Twitter, where she has more than 160,000 followers, Licy has amplified calls for climate compensation. Her advocacy has carried her all around the world. She also started the Child Movement, a club that promotes environmental awareness and "spreads information to other youngsters."

Licy's classmates have pledged not to use single-use plastic because of her, and they frequently accompany her to rallies, tree-planting activities, and waste cleanups. One of their key objectives is to make environmental education a required course of study.

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