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Students lead Delhi’s climate change charge

Children take up green cause with school support to help cool Earth, report Joyeeta Ghosh and Jatin Anand.

delhi Updated: Dec 05, 2009 23:41 IST
Joyeeta Ghosh/Jatin Anand

Akshat Chadha is barely 15, but the Class 9 student knows what his family’s carbon footprint is. He calculated it himself.

“Each of the six members in our household causes around 600 kg carbon dioxide emission every year,” he says with authority.

It was after attending several climate change discussions at school — Tagore International, East of Kailash — that Chadha, with a little help from the internet, decided to measure the carbon emission level of his family.

“Knowing your carbon footprint is a must. It is the first step towards capping it.”

World leaders may be meeting this week at Copenhagen to come to an agreement on global emission cuts, but for school children in Delhi, the battle to save Earth has already begun.

“I’ve told (my parents) at home to not keep the television on standby mode as it wastes a lot of energy, which leads to climate change. My parents hadn’t realised how much energy can go a waste,” says Raghav Rai Bhatnagar, a Class 5 student of Shri Ram School, Vasant Vihar.

His mother admits the change. “We have stopped using the hosepipe to wash our car and use buckets instead after Rahgav insisted,” she says.

Over the past 10 years, as the concept of reducing carbon emission gained momentum in public and personal spheres, schools shifted gears to introduce “a touch of green” in co-curricular activities, says educationist Abha Adams.

“From saying no to crackers, to rainwater harvesting, activities in schools are now designed around environmental benefits,” she says.

Bharti Sharma, principal of Amity International School, Saket, agrees. “Last year, students carried out the carbon footprint of each student, teacher and even classrooms. We did it first time 10 years ago,” she says.

Therefore for Gen-Y, being concerned about the ecology is not special; it is only normal.

Sixteen-year-old Shubhankar Choudhury spends all his vacations helping a tribal community in the forests preserve ecological balance.

He goes to Bandhavgarh in Madhya Pradesh to volunteer with an NGO that helps tribal villagers in cultivating herbal plants so that they keep off poaching tigers for extra income. “We help them grow and sell these plants so that tigers are not targeted for money,” Choudhury says.

Then there are the tech-savvy ones too.

“I popularize the use of Blackle,” says Kabir Chugh, Class 9, DPS Mathura Road.

Blackle.com, an energy-saving search engine, is an internet movement encouraged by climate change-wary users. Blackle’s home screen is black, a colour that consumes less electricity when displayed on screen.

But the best part about this battle is that everyone can chip in and “quite effortlessly” at that.

“I have made my parents replace all lights at home with CFLs and have planted saplings at different blocks of my housing society,” says Snigdha Gautam, Class 8, Amity International School, Saket.

It is the simplicity of the message that works for children says Govind Singh, a young climate activist and environmental research scholar from Delhi University. “Children have understood that when we say Global Warming is threatening the future of the planet, it’s their future we’re talking about.”