In July 2021, the European Greens launched the ‘Green Screen Project’ which features a series of online films and debates that relate to climate change, democracy and social justice every month from July 2021 to March 2022 for free. The project asks questions such as: ‘What does a better, greener and fairer future look like?’ and ‘How can we guarantee a just transition for all?’

In January 2022, the Green Screen featured the documentary film “Youth Unstoppable” directed by Slater Jewell-Kemker who started filming with Youth Unstoppable when she was only 15. The film follows the untold stories of the youth climate movement over the course of the last 12 years. At the age of 15, Slater first travelled to the COP 15 conference as an independent journalist in Copenhagen. She witnessed the failure of the international cooperation on climate change and the frustration of youth for not getting their voice heard. Since then, she actively participated in many climate summits including the defining COP 21 Conference in Paris where the famous Paris Agreement was signed. Along the way, she documented the mostly unseen and underreported ‘Global Youth Climate Movement’ and the struggle experienced by the young generation well before the Friday for Future movement which made the youth climate movement heard all around the world.

Creator: Shashank Shrestha 

The youth climate movement has been widely recognized by world leaders and the public thanks to climate activists like Greta Thunberg, there is still skepticism and hostility surrounding the movement. The founder and leader of the ‘People’s Party of Canada’ and former member of the Canadian parliament, Maxime Bernier, once tweeted “@GretaThunberg is clearly mentally unstable”, “Not only autistic, but obsessive-compulsive, eating disorder, depression and lethargy, and she lives in a constant state of fear.”

Some criticisms do hold a point, as suggested by David Tindall, Professor of Sociology at the University of British Columbia, “there are several apparent puzzles concerning youth involvement in politics and activism. For example, voting-age youth typically have lower voting rates and some research has shown that, demographically, lower numbers of youth are members of established environmental movement organizations.” However, David also pointed out that the older generation who is in power now did not grow under the threat of climate change, if the scientists are right about climate change, then they are forced to question their whole way of life. This is a hard conclusion to accept, and it is easier psychologically to attack the messengers (The Youth Climate Movement).

At a recent debate hosted by the European Green, Slater Jewell-Kemker who is now a film director expressed her own opinion on the current youth climate movement “Looking at the very beginning, with Severn Cullis-Suzuki calling out leaders on the world stage 3 days before I was born, to recently at COP26 in Glasgow, I think what we are seeing is that young people are stepping into their own power. They are stepping into a role of realizing that they not only have the moral and emotional standing in this conversation but there is real change that can come about from this perspective of the next generation of young people, who are not only trying to save the world but create a better one. It is becoming a lot more global and more inclusive and it’s very difficult for the media to look away.”

Bailike Ma

Bailike (Edward) is an environmental science graduate from U of T. He participated in many sustainability-related projects at the university and helped to organize a youth climate conference in China. He can speak 3 languages (Mandarin, English, German) and travelled a bit around the world by himself. He is passionate about nature, art, education and media.

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