Youth activists share their views on the Race Against Climate Change
As part of Envision Virgin Racing’s Race Against Climate Change Live event, they hosted a panel in partnership with National Geographic Kids on The Next Generation. During the session, young activists discussed the generational divide in the response to the climate crisis.
Aidan Gallagher, actor, singer-songwriter and environmental activist, said: “There's a large disconnect between the people who are willing to take action and the people who are just unaware. And what I always strive for in any environmental messaging is simplicity.
“You need to make the information understandable to a 10-year-old, regardless of what age demographic you're speaking to. It needs to be simple and short. It needs to include what the problem is to make sure they understand it or else none of it relates.
“You need to establish how it connects to them, why should they care. How does it affect them personally? How will it affect them personally? Then, while you have them hooked, while you have their understanding and their interest, you need to tell them to take action. You need this to be quick, simple and not some large thing like trying to reduce your emissions, give a specific example.
“If you don't make it personal for people, if you don't make it easy to apply and easy to cut down their carbon footprint then you're just not going to get people on board. I think a lot of times the people who are driven to make great change within the environment, we sort of drown ourselves within these statistics and overcomplicating information. If we want to reach people, make it simple, make it easy to get interested in.”
Young people have been leading the way in environmental activism in recent years. And their passion for protecting the planet isn’t going anywhere, even though there’s a lot of work to be done.
Environmentalist Bella Lack said: “I think eco-anxiety is a completely normal feeling. Of course, when we look at the challenges we have to face and the scale of what we have to do, we're going to be anxious. When we see the UN reports saying we have 10 years to prevent catastrophic climate change or a million species are at risk of extinction then we're going to be anxious - especially when you're young and it seems to consume lots of your future.
“But, and I say this not as an optimist or a pessimist but as a realist, I think that despair will do very little to help us. In fact, it will probably even be detrimental. I think that despair leads to apathy.
“I read something by the Sunrise Movement which said the thing about environmentalism is that you can be overwhelmed by the complexity of the problem, or you can fall in love with the creativity of the solutions. That's what I would suggest. We often fall into despair when we fail to imagine how positive and how great the future can be.
“Environmentalism isn't all about sacrifices, it's not all about railing against the system, we're also striving for a better future. We're striving for a future with cleaner cities where children can play in the streets, where we have more biodiversity, where you can actually see the stars. And I think that's something hugely hopeful and hugely positive.
“My one suggestion would be: read the terrifying statistics, inform yourself but also keep in mind the future we are striving for and keep that in mind so you can remain hopeful."
Kids Against Plastic
Two young activists who are remaining hopeful are 16-year-old Amy Meek and her 14-year-old sister Ella, who founded Kids Against Plastic. Amy said that they find environmental activism really rewarding. “We, as young people, are so often told to sit down and be quiet when we have the potential to have a really positive impact if we use our voices for good. And that's why we really try and focus on young people through Kids Against Plastic and through the youth empowerment scheme that we're launching.
“We want to try and make more young people realise that they do have this huge potential and to help them get the skills and the confidence to make a difference. So many of the large issues facing our planet are really scary and it is so hard to know where to start. But we – as young people – are the future and the changes that we make now will determine the rest of our lives."
Envision Virgin Racing were recently certified as carbon neutral by the Carbon Trust, making them the greenest team on the greenest grid.
Visit Envision Virgin Racing to find out more.