At 27 years old, Iqbal Badruddin is slightly older than other climate activists on the list. But the founder of Fridays for Future in Pakistan, who quit his conservation job to focus entirely on the movement, suggests that social conditions in the country required a slightly different approach to the climate strike.
“If we had asked schoolchildren to go on strike, the movement would be dead, parents and the government would be against it,” Badruddin told the website Bento, explaining that Fridays for Future was taking hold in universities. “The education level in Pakistan is already very low, many people can not read and write, they have never heard of climate change, and they certainly do not know what to do about it. Our main job is to educate people.”
Badruddin — formerly a Senior Research Associate at WaterAid Pakistan, and a Young Professional Officer at Climate NGO LEAD Pakistan — adds that the new Government in Pakistan is fighting climate change, but has struggles of being a developing country. According to Germanwatch’s Global Climate Risk Index 2018, extreme heatwaves and depleting water supplies make Pakistan one of the 10 countries most affected by climate change. Yet the population is expected to increase by 50% by 2050, and if the country continues with ambitious development plans, USA Today predicts carbon emissions could increase by 300% over the next 15 years.
“We are happy that the Western countries are working for something that does not concern them as much as it concerns us. It motivates us a lot,” Badruddin adds to Bento. “Pakistan is one of the countries most affected by climate change.”
In a short appearance on Euronews English, posted on his Facebook page, Badruddin adds that some conservative thinkers in Pakistan argue against taking action to prevent rising sea levels and increasing temperatures — saying they must simply be the will of God.
In September 2019, during the Global Strike Day, climate marches were held in 34 cities in Pakistan — varying in size from a couple of hundred people to over 2,000 each in bigger cities like Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad. Badruddin had been central in mobilising students in over a dozen universities, and it was he who secured Government authorisation for the march.
“I was expecting hundreds…but thousands came to the march and I’m so excited at the response,” he told the Tribune. “Now we have to reach out to rural areas and make our movement bigger.” As part of the strikes, The Minister of State for Climate Change, Zartaj Gul, walked with participants and promised to take their demands to the Government.
Badruddin’s FridaysforFuture movement recently conducted a session during a ‘Hike for Climate’ event, teaching participants about the climate crisis and developing a global action plan to mitigate climate change.Tags: Activism, Climate crisis, Pakistan