National

'Bike to School' supports
global warming campaign

In an effort to raise awareness among the youth on how to mitigate the impacts of global warming, 200 students from Bandung's SMA Taruna Bakti senior high school began riding their bicycles to school.

The students, between 15 and 17 years old, stated their commitment to ride their bikes to school at least once a month before head of the West Java Regional Environment Management Agency (BPLHD) Agus Rahmat at the Taman Pramuka Park on Jl. Martadinata on Oct. 25 after cycling around the city for three hours.

Eleventh grader Bella Mei Ryanni said she had never thought of cycling to school although she kept a bicycle at her house in the Cicaheum area.

Bella was motivated after two of her friends, Sarita Saraswati and Chyndar Naya Putri, returned from the Be the Change training program, a workshop on climate change organized by Oxfam GB Indonesia and Greener Magazine in August of this year.

"Since then, sometimes I thought of riding my bike to save energy, because they say the earth's temperature rises one degree annually due to the volume of carbon dioxide being released to the air which also causes the greenhouse effect that damages the ozone layer," Bella said, who is usually chauffeured to school.

Another 11th grader, Mohamad Yafti, 16, said riding a bike to school was not new to him because he had rode his bike to school in Kualakencana, Papua, for three years while in junior high.

His father, who was working for PT Freeport Indonesia at the time, suggested he ride his bike because most of his friends there did. However, he had stopped using it once he started senior high in Bandung.

"There are many cars and most of the motorcycles speed -- not to mention all the car emissions. So I was not eager to use it earlier," Yafti said, who lives in the Ciumbeuleuit area.

He decided to ride the bike again because most of his friends have begun to, he said.

The Let's Go Bike movement was designed by the two envoys from the Be the Change program in conjunction with the Inter-School Students Organization (OSIS). They had been working together for two months on the program.

SMA Taruna Bakti OSIS head Malika Rizqi Anindita said organization members had conducted a survey among students before they embarked on the campaign, and 50 percent of them agreed to the Bike to School drive.

"Biking decreases our wasteful transportation habits. It's an inexpensive and healthy means of transport, besides reducing the impacts of climate change," Malika said.

Apart from the campaign, they are making efforts to become agents of change by persuading their parents to minimize the use of plastic bags by asking them to bring their own bags when shopping.

Data at the National Space and Aeronautics Agency (LAPAN) shows that around 70 percent of Bandung's air pollution originates from car emissions which triggers the rise in temperature of 0.3 degree Celsius each year.

It is a good idea to have youths acting as agents of change in the global warming campaign because they will be the ones who will lead in the future, said Syaifl Rohman from Greener Magazine.

He hopes that such global warming campaigns in schools will set an eco-lifestyle trend -- from wasting energy to conserving energy -- by using environmentally friendly products and reducing the use of energy derived from fossil fuels.

Other activities in the climate change campaign include a painting "road show" by noted Bandung artist Indra Sakti. A canvas will be painted, depicting how humans will need to adapt their daily lives due to the effects of global warming, said Dian Kartikasari, Oxfam GB Indonesia media and external relations officer.

"The canvas will be sewn together with other canvases from 23 countries and will later be exhibited in the climate change conference to be held in Poznan, Poland," Dian said.

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