Why is climate change important to you? Why are you at the COP?
I graduated from University of Nottingham in Malaysia with a degree in Environmental Sciences. I started my interest in climate change by getting involved with local NGOs, youth organizations, school projects, and volunteer programs in my country. I am really interested in seeing how science interacts with policy in dealing the problem of climate change. As a youth representative of my country, I believe youth is an important part in getting involved with climate solutions, and I am hoping to see the impact of youth in dealing with climate issues.
How has climate change affected your life and work?
During last year, in our community, people had less water. Because of climate change, we have to grow the crops that we used to grow at different times. For example, we used to harvest bananas in August, but now we cannot harvest them in August anymore. Native seeds don’t grow the same way because sometimes, for example, there is too much sun. Because of climate change, we don’t find the same plants in the same months. It also happens on animals, because they can no longer find the same plants to eat. It is all a chain. Everything has changed.
We have a project called 2020 or Bust!, which is designed to mobilize 500,000,000 individuals around the world by 2020 to take a specific set of actions individually. That in 2020, we will reduce the global emissions by 8 gigatons, which right now is the gap between where the UN and the Paris Agreement leaves us what we actually have to do in the crisis.
What was your reaction when you saw that Trump became your future president?
Of course Trump being elected is not good. As a climate activist, as a gay man, as somebody with the brain, it is not good. However, I think it is an opportunity for people to really wake up to what the government never set up to make life good to you. It is not ideal. It is a risk that he will denounce the Paris Agreement, it is a risk that he will completely dissemble the United Nations, I mean, all of that stuff is a risk. With the Paris Agreement, hopefully what they put into effect last week, will keep him from being actually come out of it, but again, as long as your kind of thinking is, that it is the agreement that makes all the difference, it is the same kind of mindset that got him elected. So the UN disagreement is not going to end the climate crisis, far from it. …
Will you talk a little bit about your interest in climate change and how it relates to your life and your work?
I’m at the receiving end of the adverse effects of climate change. I come from Africa. We have a limited ability to adapt, limited ability to mitigate, limited ability to be resilient, so I am interested in what transpires at climate change conferences like this one. I’m interested in putting in place climate policy that’s gender-responsive, because I know that [women] are even more disproportionally affected by climate change than men.
How did you begin to be interested in that?
It was out of certain need. We put in place an organization to respond to the effects of climate change, even before we knew it was climate change. Because now there are seasons that vary, we are experiencing a 100% crop failure because of prolonged drought, and the violent rains are very destructive. So we put in place an organization… to be able to protect ourselves. It’s global, and what they’re doing is good adaptation.