Turkey’s 11-year-old activist demands grown-up action on climate change

An 11-year-old Turkish activist is taking action against the climate crisis by holding one-person demonstrations in busy parts of her home city of Istanbul.

Deniz Çevikuş has been devoting her free time since March to environmental activism, including weekly Friday climate strikes in central parts of Turkey’s largest city where she holds a sign inviting passers-by to discuss the climate crisis.

“Are you aware of the climate crisis? If you want, I can explain it,” Çevikuş’s sign reads.

The young activist has recruited classmates to take part in her strikes and held one at a busy shopping district where she explained the fashion industry’s contribution to the climate crisis.

“The number of people willing to listen our explanations are increasing,” she said in a social media post on Aug. 2, the 19th week since she began her demonstrations. Her latest demonstration was held in the centre of the busy Istanbul district of Beşiktaş.

Çevikuş can add environmental journalism to her list of achievements, having interviewed a fellow climate activist from Russia, Arshak Makichyan.

The 11-year-old activist has followed in the footsteps of Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, who came to prominence after starting a climate strike outside Sweden’s parliament, aged 15.

Turkey is the world’s 18th biggest emitter of carbon dioxide from fuel combustion, according to the most recent data.

A mining project in the Kaz Mountains in Turkey’s western Aegean region has brought environmental concerns to the Turkish agenda this summer. Activists say the Turkish government frequently gives business interests priority over the environment, leading to hugely destructive construction and mining projects in conservation areas.