Words by Abi Scaife
It’s 2019, and Noga Levy-Rapoport is 17 years old and angry.
Spurred on by their passion for the environment, and anger that the adults in charge weren’t doing anything about the climate crisis, Noga went to London to join climate marches.
“This was not just a way of making immediate, long-term changes in drawing awareness to the climate crisis,” explains Noga, "but also in making it clear that young people were not going anywhere, and that there was an immediate, and urgent need to have our voices heard.”
From here, Noga has gone on to be one of the most prominent young climate activists in the UK, even having their own TED talk on the climate crisis, and how important young people are in the fight to protect our earth.
A passion for a cause
Over the last four years, Noga has become more determined than ever to influence decision-makers into enacting change. It isn’t an easy fight but, for Noga, that makes it even more worth it - the knowledge that they are fighting for something important.
“There was risk and, at times, there was burnout,” admits Noga, now in their third and final year of university. “But nothing was able to get me through those times like spending time with those who I worked with, with the friendships and the connections … because there is a deep understanding that the work you do can be exhausting.
"But if you stop it completely, you will be so much more drained, feeling so much more helpless.”
It’s true that fighting for a cause can be draining at times - but that doesn’t mean there isn’t hope. In fact, for Noga, there is plenty of hope to be found in what they do, even when it is hard. Surrounding themself with people who have the same priorities and same beliefs brings Noga hope because it reminds them that they aren't alone in what they are doing.
“Any form of eco-anxiety or eco-paralysis, in my experience, has almost always come from feeling like you can only do small things and you can only do them alone,” explains Noga. “Being … in a space where you can remind yourself that you are part of something much greater by default offers you a much greater hope. You can continue to feel that passion, simply by moving away from paralysis.”
Fear about the environment can be paralysing - and no one knows that more than Noga and others in the climate action movement. Whether you’re campaigning every week, or just making small changes in your own life, it can feel as though the burden of the whole climate movement is on you.
“Whilst no one should feel that they have to carry the entire world on their shoulders, I think it's important to stay as involved as you can and as balanced as you can,” explains Noga. “Take time for yourself, but remember that the movement needs you and you need the movement too. Without it, it can be a very depressing place to be in your life, it can be very hard to see a way forward if you're not engaged in those in those political environmental campaigning spaces.”
A necessary voice for our future
Aged just 21, Noga is still young - something many people might try to use against them. But for Noga, they know that being young doesn’t have anything to do with how capable you are of change, or how necessary your voice is in discussing the future.
“Over the past few years, I was able to really embrace the power of young people,” explains Noga. “I was able to discuss with other young people the power that we had, that we could hold on to very strongly … understanding that our naivety is not something to be afraid of and that the restrictions that we've grown up with … can always show us that we can survive every single crisis, and we have the opportunity to build a better world and the world that we want.”
For those struggling with their feelings of anxiety about climate action - Noga has some advice for them too.
“Firstly, get together. You're not alone in this and there are so many people who are like-minded who feel the same as you,” advises Noga. “It's very hard sometimes to be involved in nationwide or international campaigning when you feel strapped in every possible way. But getting together with the people around you is the first step to deciding what to do.”
If you want to support climate action, consider donating to or volunteering with The Climate Coalition.