KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia kicked off its participation in the Global Climate Strike with an event that included dialogue sessions, speeches and mini workshops.
Around 200 people, including school children and families carrying placards, attended the gathering at the Publika Shopping Gallery here on Friday (Sept 20) evening under a grey, hazy sky that drove home the impact of climate change caused by human activities.
"I am here to spread awareness about the importance of stopping climate change to other young children like me, so they can voice out to their parents about the consequences of our future," said 11-year-old activist Sasirani Manogaran from Penang.
The SJK(T) Sungai Ara pupil said she was very worried about climate change seeing how human actions had led to forest fires and the stifling haze.
"Our country is not the same anymore – we will all suffer if this keeps going.
"Adults are so selfish. They never think about nature, and they do not think about our future. They think it is more important to use plastics and are not working to stop climate change.
"I am so worried about my future," she added.
Eugene Chang, 15, said the education system did not do enough to teach students about climate change.
"Whether or not schools want to pick up this responsibility, it is important for schools to educate students about climate change and that if we don't do anything about it, we will die in the future," he said.
Gurpreet Singh, 32, said Malaysians needed to correct their defeatist attitude, thinking they could not influence change with small actions.
"When we talk about the environmental crisis, the knee-jerk reaction is 'Will that make a difference?'
"If we don't believe we can affect change, change will never be a reality," the CEO of Me.reka said.
A global movement
Spearheaded by 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, the global campaign demanding urgent government action to address the climate crisis, is taking place ahead of the United Nations Emergency Climate Summit on Sept 23.
A rally is planned for Saturday (Sept 21) in Kuala Lumpur where over 250 people are expected to gather and march from Sogo KL to Dataran Merdeka starting from 4.30pm.
Pressure group Klima Action Malaysia (Kamy), which is leading the event, has joined hands with the likes of Greenpeace Malaysia and Amnesty International Malaysia for the rally.
Their four demands are to "smash" the wall of political and media silence on the climate crisis, declare a climate emergency for financial and policy mobilisation, raise awareness among Malaysians, as well as the visibility of the climate narrative from developing countries.
The strikes calling for climate justice taking place around the world have seen an unprecedented turnout.
In Australia, The Guardian reported that over 100,000 people picketed in Melbourne alone and hundreds and thousands showed up in Sydney, Perth and Brisbane.
Photos of people marching for climate justice in Philippines, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore and more are also being shared on social media.
In the United States, Thunberg on Wednesday (Sept 18) told members of the US congress to "wake up" in a powerful speech.
CNN reported that Thunberg submitted the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's special report on global warming, which reported a temperature increase of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
"I am submitting this report as my testimony because I don't want you to listen to me, I want you to listen to the scientists," she said.
"And I want you to unite behind the science. And then I want you to take real action."
To reduce her carbon emissions footprint while travelling from Sweden to the United States, Thunberg chose not to fly and instead spent two weeks sailing across the Atlantic on a zero-emissions sailboat.