My name is Raj Khan, and I am currently a postgraduate student studying English at UCL. I joined UpRising’s Environmental Leadership Programme in April to enhance my understanding of environmental causes, to meet like-minded people who are interested in promoting sustainability, and to engage in social activism. I am inspired by the hard work, dedication and passion by the UpRising team and everyone in the programme who are seeking to help create a more environmentally just world.
Due to the global impact of climate change, it is incumbent upon all of us to learn, promote, and help campaign for sustainable development policies. Within recent years, there have been considerable achievements such as the United Nations adopting the Paris Agreement at the COP21 during December 2015 (1). Moreover, thousands of students across the globe have been working together to express their concerns about the climate emergency and how to influence policy making that seeks to protect our planet (2). By taking part in the Environmental Leadership Programme, I hope to contribute to global environmental justice movements.
Before joining the programme in April this year, I took part in local community street clean-ups and promoted discussions around climate change at college. Through these various actions, I came to understand that climate change doesn’t just impact us in Britain. It impacts the entire planet. In order to protect our planet, we need to realise that climate change does not respect borders. It disproportionately impacts people from marginalised backgrounds and communities.
Climate change... disproportionately impacts people from marginalised backgrounds and communities
It made me realise that we need sustainable development programs that seek to reduce disparities based on gender, ethnicity, nationality, age, and class. Since joining the programme, I have learnt about various issues such as the principles of sustainability, the importance of community energy and the necessity of making water and food consumption more environmentally friendly. The programme has also taught me that all these issues are interconnected and that there are a multitude of ways to support sustainable action.
Every week on the programme, I have taken part in online sessions where guest speakers from various industries of the green economy come and discuss their work and projects. This has been insightful in helping me explore which issues I would like to focus on for future campaigns. I am interested particularly in food sustainability as well as promoting public transport that is environmentally just, accessible, and affordable for all. This would help to reduce air pollution.
I am proud of being part of UpRising’s Environmental Leadership Programme because of their emphasis on being a global citizen. As someone whose family lives in Bangladesh, I view environmental justice as a crucial component to reducing global inequalities. Saleemul Huq, the director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development and a professor at the Independent University, Bangladesh, notes that Bangladesh is prone to cyclones, flooding and droughts due to human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases (3). Personally, this causes me a lot of anxiety because it can directly impact my loved ones.
I view environmental justice as a crucial component to reducing global inequalities
During one session on the programme, we learnt about climate anxiety, which refers to fears, worries and concerns about the impact of climate change. Not knowing that there was a term for the emotions I was experiencing, this helped me understand that many people also feel the same way and that my concerns are justified, which Christine Ro explores in detail when writing about climate breakdown (4). Within our session, there were recommendations to cope with climate anxiety like embracing self-care, engaging in small actions to make a difference, and remembering that I am part of a community that is trying to fix some of these issues.
Personally, I have really benefited and enjoyed the programme thus far. I am looking forward to increasing my understanding of various environmental issues, to work together with everyone else on the programme and to participate in campaigns that promote sustainability.
Raj Khan, Environmental Leadership Programme Participant
(1) Denchak, M. (2021, February) Paris Climate Agreement: Everything You Need To Know. Available from https://www.nrdc.org/stories/paris-climate-agreement-everything-you-nee…. Accessed: 7th May 2022.
(2) McGrath, M. (2019, February) Climate strike: Why are students striking and will it have an impact?. Available from https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-47242477. Accessed: 8th May 2022.
3) Huq, S. (2022, March) Adapting to Climate Change: Lessons from Bangladesh. Available from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/adapting-to-climate-change-l…. Accessed: 9th May 2022.
(4) Ro, C. (2019, October) The harm from worrying about climate change. Available from https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20191010-how-to-beat-anxiety-about-c…. Accessed: 9th May 2022.