Planet is dying, warns India's 8-year-old climate crusader

Eight-year-old Licypriya Kangujam protesting outside India's Parliament in New Delhi last Wednesday. She is leading a youth movement calling for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Indian lawmakers to pass a law aimed at capping carbon emissions in the
Eight-year-old Licypriya Kangujam protesting outside India's Parliament in New Delhi last Wednesday. She is leading a youth movement calling for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Indian lawmakers to pass a law aimed at capping carbon emissions in the world's third-largest producer of greenhouse gases.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW DELHI • When eight-year-old Indian climate change activist Licypriya Kangujam is older, she wants to launch a solo mission to the moon to research ways to save planet earth.

One of the world's youngest climate change activists, Licypriya was influenced by the images of the devastation caused by the Nepal earthquakes in 2015 that killed some 9,000 people and destroyed one million homes.

As a four-year-old, she helped her father raise funds and gather relief supplies for the millions of people displaced by the tragedy.

Now she is leading a youth movement calling for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Indian lawmakers to pass a new law aimed at capping carbon emissions in the world's third-largest producer of greenhouse gases.

"I am fighting to save our planet and our future," she said as she protested outside Parliament House in New Delhi last Wednesday, clutching a placard that read: "Child movement for climate, pass the climate change law."

Delhi, a sprawling metropolis of some 19 million people, is one of the world's most polluted cities and during the winter months toxic haze often keeps families at home.

Licypriya, born in India's north-eastern state of Manipur which is home to pristine mountains and crystal clear air, is outraged by the air quality she has seen in Delhi.

"I am worried about the health of the school children and small, small babies," she said from her high-rise apartment in Noida, a satellite town of New Delhi.

Just a week shy of her ninth birthday, her home is testament to both her activism and her youth. Awards and trophies from international agencies fill a cabinet, while she and her six-year-old sister Irina have pillow fights, sing karaoke, dance and watch films like Frozen.

Licypriya's ultimate ambition is to become a "space scientist" in a bid to save humans back on earth.

"I will go to the moon and I will research how we can get the fresh air to breathe, and how we can get water, fresh water to drink, and food, how to grow the crops," she said. "Because our planet is dying soon."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 29, 2020, with the headline 'Planet is dying, warns India's 8-year-old climate crusader'. Print Edition | Subscribe