A young climate revolution advocate helps change the world
It started with a video.
It was a short Youtube advertisement calling for entries from young people all over the world from 13 to 21 asking a “Why?” and “Why not?” question to world leaders on climate change. The campaign was by the Climate Reality Project and the winning entries would win a sponsored trip to New York City for the United Nations Climate Summit last September 2014, where these videos were presented to the world leaders at the conference.
A one-minute video for a trip of a lifetime did not seem like a bad exchange at all. “Why not focus on increasing the efficiency of renewable energy sources?” The voice of one Jeckree Mission, a young Lipa native, rang loud and clear, all the more resonant at a time when there were talks on granting President Benigno Aquino III emergency powers to address the country’s looming energy crisis. One thing happened after another, and Jeckree became one of 8 young people from all over the world chosen to represent the millennial generation in New York.
He didn’t make it to the Big Apple, however, due to some stroke of fate, but Jeckree knows his mission does not end here. The next attempt was Jeckree in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, at the Climate Leadership Training, where he had the opportunity to listen to world experts on climate, including former US Vice President Al Gore. The training in Rio was Jeckree’s first step to becoming a leader at Climate Reality Leadership Corps, a network that has about 6,000 members worldwide committed to empowering communities on climate change. An even better opportunity, he said, because he knows he can do more on climate change after he becomes a Climate Reality Leader.
One of the highlights of Jeckree’s trip to Rio was meeting Al Gore in the flesh, as he chatted the former US Vice President on climate change. In return, he complimented Jeckree’s work on the “Why? Why not?” campaign.
Meeting the world leader was an overwhelming experience for Jeckree who just a few months ago was an average 22-year-old whose hobbies included reading and photography. Before the Climate Reality Project, the last time Jeckree had done anything remotely close to environmental work was joining tree-planting activities in high school. Back then, the recent BS Civil Engineering graduate from UP Los Baños was focused on the next milestone in his career: the board exams in December.
It was James Balog and his "Extreme Ice Survey," a documentary of his photos showing actual melting ice caps in Alaska and Greenland, that inspired Jeckree to help. “The photos taken by Balog were very beautiful and yet they carried the message that was very frightening,” shared Jeckree, who decided that he wanted to follow in Balog’s footsteps and bring light to the climate change issue. The rest, as they say, is history.
The Rio training ties in with this year’s Conference of Parties (COP 20) in Peru in December, and the COP 21 in Paris next year, a series of summits hosted by the United Nations. Climate leaders deem these events as crucial for progress in the climate change movement, as world leaders decide on their countries’ fate in addressing climate issues. From this, Jeckree is expecting tangible results.
“[For COP 20] in Peru, I am expecting that the world leaders should have made at least 80-85% progress on the international climate agreement for a fair, ambitious and legally-binding treaty for COP 21 in Paris next year,” he said.
There is also the expectation for the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage, a framework to address loss and damage associated with impacts of climate change, to be defined in the next climate talks in 2016.
“This [Warsaw International] mechanism is essential for vulnerable nations, such as the Philippines, seeking for climate justice from the countries who have contributed much to the carbon emissions in the atmosphere,” Jeckree explained.
It seems like an abstract concept, and quite frankly a lot to digest, but Jeckree knows the effects of climate change are much more concrete and real. In a nation still reeling from the devastation of Typhoon Yolanda and most recently, Typhoon Ruby, it’s really not hard to see why action on climate change is a must. The same goes for other countries that are experiencing the impacts of climate change, as climate change is everyone’s business.
The power of the youth
Jeckree imparted a quote from Al Gore from the climate training, "The externality that will drive change is the clear view of what is right and what is wrong...People naturally do the right thing to do."
The Pinoy advocate added: “[Al Gore’s] statement made me realize the capacity of humankind to embrace the good within themselves. Even if the challenges may seem insurmountable, we should not feel that all hope is lost in this battle of climate change.”
For Jeckree, the best way to get the youth started in taking part in combatting climate change is to initiate activities promoting greener living in their communities.
“It's like hitting two birds with one stone. This will serve as good nurturing for the environmentalist nature of the youth and if every youth will partake in this effort, the collective action will be so significant that countries will find it difficult to ignore,” he said.
The young leader’s advice is not just meant for the Filipino millennials, but for the youth around the world: “The action need not be grand. Even the simplest step will have a significant effect if combined with all the other little steps every youth will take.”
I met Jeckree when I volunteered for DAKILA’s Climate Revolution campaign. He was on his way to Brazil then for the climate training. He went to the same university I am enrolled in now. He was just like me in many ways. Perhaps, his name is no coincidence. Jeckree Mission may probably be tasked to inspire young people like me that one simple action can truly make a difference.
And sometimes, even a step as simple as a video is all it takes to spark the conversation. – Rappler.com
Sam Beltran is a 20-year-old BA Journalism student from the University of the Philippines Diliman. Like Jeckree, prior to her involvement in DAKILA’s climate revolution campaign, her only exposure in environmental protection are tree-planting activities. Now, she makes an effort to write about climate change as her contribution to the movement.