COPENHAGEN – Latin America is galvanizing against the climate crisis and the people leading the movement are young women.
Pamela Escobar, Julieta Itzcovich, Angela Valenzuela and Cassia Moraes are environmental activists and although they work tirelessly to curb the negative effects of climate change they have not yet achieved the fame Swedish counterpart Greta Thunberg has garnered.
“Being a woman and Latin American may limit me in the sense that we are less listened to, but whatever country it is and whatever means they may have, what matters is the conviction that we want a change,” 19-year-old Escobar told Efe.
The Mexican teenager is representing young climate activists at the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group in Denmark and attended by leaders of 94 cities around the world.
The international organization focuses on tackling the climate crisis and advocates reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
When studying at high school Escobar read An Inconvenient Truth, by former United States vice president Al Gore, an attendee at this year’s C40 summit.
It marked a turning point for her and she started to research climate change in more depth, began lecturing about it at her school before she then decided to take her activism to the streets.
“Education is a fundamental factor for people to have environmental awareness,” Escobar said.
She is one of the members of Mexico’s Fridays For Future campaign which was founded by Thunberg a year ago.
Escobar described her Swedish counterpart as an “admirable person.”
It was Thunberg’s speech at the last UN General Assembly in New York that inspired 17-year-old Argentinian Itzcovich.
“The force of the speech made me realize that we are in a climate crisis.
“And we are already feeling the consequences of this phenomenon,” she added.
As an activist, Itzcovich participated for the first time in a protest on 15 March.
A month later, she began to frequent Buenos Aires’ Plaza de Mayo on Fridays.
Despite the enormous exposure young people have achieved, especially following Thunberg’s speech, Itzcovich said that environmental activism had existed for centuries but that being militant in Latin America was different from European activism.
“In Latin America, there is a lack of awareness among the population about the climate crisis.
“There isn’t the same number of people rallying in European countries and Latin American countries even though we are the ones who suffer the most from the consequences of climate change,” Itzcovich added.
Chilean Angela Valenzuela, 25, agreed with the importance of Thunberg’s contribution to environmental activism.
“She gave us an example that individual action has an impact we could never imagine.
“It triggered a spark that gave young people a global platform for action,” the Santiago de Chile FFF coordinator told Efe.
Valenzuela, who is also a singer-songwriter, began to get involved with environmental activism at the school, where she began reading about climate change and then implemented a recycling program at her center.
“From that moment I decided to dedicate my whole life, thinking almost daily about what I could do about the climate crisis,” she added.
Cassia Moraes, from Brazil, began her activism at the age of 14.
Her first lifestyle change to save the climate was to become a vegetarian.
The 29-year-old developed a project on climate change during her undergraduate studies in international relations in 2009.
Since then she has not stopped and a year and a half ago she created the Youth Climate Leaders network of young activists worldwide.
“When I graduated, I couldn’t find a job.
“Years later, when I started working, I identified the need to professionalize young climate activist work,” she explained.
Moraes said young people have already conquered the public debate on the climate crisis.
The next step is to get those who make the decisions, such as politicians and businessmen, to take listen to them, she concluded.