Big Issue Vendor

How family roots have shown Mya-Rose Craig climate breakdown’s inequality

The 16-year-old birder and conservationist tells The Big Issue why she is calling for us to consider our environmental impact beyond British borders

My generation is more aware of climate breakdown and its impact than any other. We were disenfranchised from the system but this is energising many teenagers around the planet. It has given us hope and – more importantly – motivation to act. I think that it is essential for all teenagers to take part; it is incredibly easy to otherwise feel that there is no point in shouting when no one is listening.

Another reason that I care so deeply about climate breakdown is the impact it has on people in poorer countries who have not contributed to its cause and cannot stop it; 16 of the 20 countries most at risk from climate breakdown are in the developing world.

Mya-Rose Craig
Mya-Rose Craig has seen the devastation that climate breakdown has brought to Bangladesh where her mother's family hails from

For me, climate breakdown is not some grim future or vague concept, but something real and dangerous. My mum’s family are Bangladeshi and many living in the country are already facing the worst effects of it, with millions of climate refugees in Dhaka. Our village had terrible storms causing early flooding which wiped out rice crops. As well as flooding, the country is affected by non-seasonal droughts and increased typhoons. By 2060 it is predicted there will be up to one billion climate refugees worldwide.

I believe that as environmentalists we have a responsibility to advocate action that is fair to people worldwide, especially those who are poorer. The Western environmental sector was based on colonialism and has not shaken this off. In everything that we advocate we must consider the effect in the UK as well as in any developing counties. For example, the ‘go local’, food and clothing and ‘no travel’ campaigns make sense in terms of reducing our carbon footprint but impact communities abroad disproportionately. First, we need to find alternative sustainable income sources to help the communities and wildlife.

Mya-Rose Craig isa conservationist and birder writing at and @BirdgirlUK

Image: Getty