By: Riwa Ghawi, Lebanon Green Party
As a teenager, I lived in the city. The weekends were my escape. I waited for the car to roll away from Beirut, and as it did, the sky cleared out. And as we drove upwards towards our village, we could look back and see a cloud of grey smoke cover Beirut. Every morning, I stood at my balcony and looked at the grey smoke coming out of factories. On my way home from school, I saw beautiful trees being cut to be replaced by rising buildings. I grew up to that, and I knew it needed to stop.
Today, I am 24 years old and not much has changed in my country, in fact, the dominant corruption and the profit-oriented mentality makes it even harder to convince people of the damage they are inflicting onto their unique and beautiful ecosystem. It only takes a day of hiking in nature to know the value of the air that we take for granted. It only takes that ride away from the city and above the grey cloud that covers the Beiruti sky to know how badly we have already damaged our environment. Let us not restrict our view either, pictures of polluted waters, burned forests, dry soil, polluted skies, animals dying from losing their habitat, drying rivers and toxic wastes going into our soil and water are easy to find in just about any country.
Now I chose the cause I want to stand up for: one of many, is to have a planet worth living on for my future family. And that planet will cease to exist without the proper measures being taken now. Some damages are irreversible but our Earth can still be salvaged. The US and China alone amount to 40% of the Greenhouse gases emissions worldwide, this just shows how simple measures and a proper monitoring of wastes can drastically change the numbers. A promise today is a hope for tomorrow.
For the first time, I am getting to be part of what I believe to be the greatest favor we are finally doing for our planet, our first apology, our first attempt at giving something back to a planet that has given to us for eras. The Conference of Parties in its upcoming 22nd meeting, has through the Paris Agreement a commitment among all the countries of the world to reduce our toxic wastes and our greenhouse emission gases in order to minimise the damage already inflicted on our environment, which has already begun manifesting in climate change. By 2020, global warming will be limited to 2 degrees Celsius, and that will be the beginning of preserving life on this planet.
As a member of the Green Party of Lebanon, I have this wonderful opportunity, to set my country on the right path to preserving its rich ecosystem, not only to represent my country in conferences such as COP 22 and to voice my concerns regarding climate change and the way it is influencing the countries of the world; but to lead a group of young enthusiasts to follow in these footsteps and spread the knowledge, initiate change and save this planet and its people from their inevitable doom if they don't act.
The Green Party of Lebanon has given me the voice and the platform to fight for what I believe in, to fight for a place to raise a family, to fight for those unable to fight for themselves, and I know one day, the reality of this planet will begin to resemble my vision of it, through every leader who signed the Paris Agreement, everyone who has taken the personal initiative to generate electricity through solar panels, through every factory owner who did not leak his wastes into the rivers, through every land owner who did not cut the trees of his land to build huge apartments with no greenery.
There is hope. And hope begins within.