Although street gatherings had to be suspended because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the climate action group continued with its campaigns. The national coordinator for NYCA, Shreya KC says, “In a sense, the momentum we were gaining in getting youth involved in climate action in Nepal was dissipated by the coronavirus crisis. Which is why we shifted the movement to virtual gatherings.”
KC says it has been a steep learning curve, and there are pros and cons of online activism. “The benefit is that we have been able to be connected with people from all over Nepal and the world. However, limited bandwidth and an unstable internet have been challenging.”
At age 22, KC has been a key member of NYCA for the past four years, she spends most of her time learning and advocating as a climate activist, and was a delegate at the UN Climate Change Conference, COP25 which was moved from Santiago to Madrid last year because of unrest in Chile.
“Sometimes I get demotivated when the leaders turn a deaf ear to us. However, working closely with other youth from all over the country, I feel empowered and optimistic,” KC adds.
Nepal contributes less than 0.3 tons annually per capita of carbon, compared to 37 tons for every Qatari. Yet, Nepal is in the list of top countries to suffer gravest consequences of the climate crisis.
“Climate change has not yet been a priority for Nepal’s leaders, awareness is limited and there is even less action. Old and young, everyone should know what is happening and should also feel responsible,” says KC.
Nepal is party to the United Nations Framework on Convention of Climate Change (UNFCCC) and has ratified the Paris Agreement, and to help the process NYCA is pulling together ‘Youth Priorities’ to contribute to Nepal’s climate action plan.
“If the leaders hear our appeals and include youth-led priorities, that will be a historical achievement to all of us fighting to preserve a future, we are hopeful,” she says.
The visibility of the youth climate movement on social media has created a feedback loop so that more and more young Nepalis are getting involved. While Mingma Nuru Sherpa is from the high mountains, Shreya KC is from Kathmandu, Gaurav Thakur, also 22, is from Janakpur in the Tarai – making it a truly हिमाल-पहाड-तराई initiative.