'Planet is dying,' warns India's 8-year-old climate crusader

Licypriya Kangujam wants to launch a solo mission to the moon to research ways to save planet earth. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW DELHI (REUTERS) - When eight-year-old Indian climate change activist Licypriya Kangujam is older, she wants to launch a solo mission to the moon to research ways to save planet earth.

One of the world's youngest climate change activists, Kangujam was influenced by the images of the devastation caused by the Nepal earthquakes in 2015 that killed some 9,000 people and destroyed one million homes.

As a four-year-old, she helped her father raise funds and gather relief materials to be delivered to the millions of people displaced by the tragedy.

Now she is leading a youth movement calling for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Indian lawmakers to pass a new law aimed at capping carbon emissions in the world's third largest producer of greenhouse gases.

"I am fighting to save our planet and our future," she said as she protested outside Parliament House in New Delhi on Sept 21, clutching a placard that read: "Child movement for climate, pass the climate change law."

Delhi, a sprawling metropolis of some 19 million people, is one of the world's most polluted cities and during the winter months toxic haze can often confine families to their homes.

Born in India's north-eastern state of Manipur, home to pristine mountains and crystal clear air, Licypriya has been outraged by the air quality she has seen in Delhi.

"I am worried about the health of the school children and small, small babies," Licypriya said from her high-rise apartment in Noida, a satellite town of New Delhi.

Just a week shy of her ninth birthday, Licypriya's home is testament to both her activism and her youth. Awards and trophies from international agencies fill a cabinet, while she and her six-year-old sister, Irina, have pillow fights, sing karaoke, dance and watch films like Frozen together.

Licypriya's ultimate ambition is to become a "space scientist" in a bid to save humans back on earth.

"I will go to the moon and I will research how we can get the fresh air to breathe, and how we can get water, fresh water to drink, and food, how to grow the crops," she said.

"Because our planet is dying soon."

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