Will Malaysia survive the next environmental movement?

By Haidah Halid

“How dare you?”  These three daunting and threatening words spewed out of the lips of 16-year-old Greta Thunberg. A Swedish native who has managed to become a household name after her thunderous speech at the 2019 Climate Action Summit held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. 

Greta first rose to fame in 2018 when she began a solo climate protest by taking time off school to demonstrate outside her local Swedish parliament. Ever since then, the young activist has been joined by thousands of other students from all over the world who have made their own efforts to protest and demonstrate about climate change to their own respective governments. It shows that her solo protest a year ago, alone, had more impact than anyone could ever imagine. 

Due to her widely publicised efforts, more Malaysian youths have stepped up their efforts on multiple social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram to spread more information on the undeniably fatal consequences of climate change. The voices of the youths in Malaysia have successfully influenced the government, which is clearly shown with the banning of plastic straws in all eateries in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Labuan and Selangor that took effect this past January and July, respectively. 

During the summit, Greta bravely says to the UN delegates, “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairytales of economic growth. How dare you?”

In Greta’s statement, she hints on the selfishness of world leaders that are mostly concerned about the economic growth of their country instead of the well-being of its inhabitants and their environment.

Malaysia is a country that has agriculture as its main economic contributor, with that the nation has landed itself in hot water as the lengthy process of producing food, feed and fibre by the cultivation of certain plants and livestock is one of the main contributors of climate change as each stage of the process emits greenhouse gases. However, surprisingly there are still many youths who are not as interested in environmental issues, who are venturing into the business as it provides ‘good money’.

As a country that is still developing its way towards the desired ranking of ‘first world country’, is Malaysia willing to forfeit its economic sources in order to fulfil the wants of a cleaner and greener environment? Are we willing to give up our own selfish desires to ensure the longevity and future of the youths?

One thing for sure, the youths of today would not admit defeat – they simply have no other alternative especially if they want to live long enough to see the next generation. ***

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