“This story was initially published as part of the The International People’s Platform for Climate Justice project”

My name is Renata Padilha. I’m Brazilian, and I graduated with a degree in International Relations at the Federal University of Pelotas, a member of the UN’s Goals Nucleus in the southern region of Rio Grande do Sul. I’m also the founder of the Eco Pelo Clima Movement in Pelotas, a Fridays For Future Brazil hub.
Throughout my 26 years, I have dedicated myself to the environmental cause, a passion that started at school in a neighborhood on the periphery of Porto Alegre called Restinga Nova. Through the various ecological walks, projects for the recovery of open-air dumps, and encouraging environmental projects within the school itself, I discovered my goal in life: to fight for a world where there is balance between humans and nature.
I have always been a curious child who likes to learn and study everything. I soon realized that environmental issues must be addressed at the international level through cooperation between countries in a democratic and transparent debate space for significant changes to happen. At the time, I had no idea what the United Nations was, but I knew that was where I had to be.

Renata during the Youth Assembly event in 2019

Thus, the years passed and my activism was strengthened. Every day I become a better version of myself, a development that began with my first volunteer work at a young age. I realized that the environmental struggle goes beyond the garbage we throw on the street, the long shower, and the faucet we turn on when brushing our teeth. My struggles made me vegan and minimalist, which prompted me to join the Zero-Waste movement to tread on the environment as lightly as possible.
The same struggle led me to get to know the Fridays For Future movement, where I found support to take one more step and founded the Eco Pelo Clima movement. Through our strikes, we have been able to talk to the population about climate change and how we, as a society, can and must be part of the change that the world needs. Similarly, online strikes have been extremely important in the current moment we live in due to the Covid 19. Through these meetings with Digital Strike and the various FFFs around the world, we have discussed the main climate issues and what actions we will take together.
However, of course, Digital Strike meetings cannot cover all issues. So we carried out actions at the local level to bring visibility and demand actions from our governments. We raised the alarm against the proposal to create a coal plant close to a protected area in ​​Porto Alegre called Mina Guaiba. Several environmental impacts on soil, water, and air pollution were found, and the chances are high that it would affect the health of Porto Alegre and the metropolitan population. 

Protest in front of Copelmi, the company responsible for what would be the largest open-pit coal mine in Latin America. Quote on the poster: Let’s talk about climate change?

“For an environmentalist, the struggle for life is daily. It means always being aware of what is happening locally and internationally, it means stepping out of our comfort zone to fight injustices and inequalities, even if it means attending several Public Hearings raising our voices against the creation of a coal plant that endangers many lives and the balance of nature. Being an environmentalist is the purest form of love, after all, we donate our life, our time, and our passion, to something so beautiful — that is taking care of the only home we have.” – Renata Padilha

We still have many battles to fight in search of climate justice — the path there will certainly not be easy. However, we are not alone. Today, we have everything we need to turn the tide: the technology, and the right people for it. The Fridays For Future movement, together with several environmental organizations worldwide, is already changing the future so that the next generations can satisfy their needs in balance with nature. Change has arrived; it’s up to us to join in the fight for life!

“At the end of the day, everything we do is about love.” Credit: Willian Alves