The protest movement calling for action on climate change gained momentum this year with millions taking to the streets across the world demanding that governments do more to fix the crisis.

Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg gained widespread attention for her "you have stolen my childhood" speech at the United Nations climate action summit in September.

The environmental protest movement Extinction Rebellion launched dramatic protests in the United Kingdom and across the world. India's capital New Delhi made headlines after its pollution levels became so bad that the city announced a public health emergency and closed schools.

The European Union, meanwhile, declared a global climate and environmental emergency. The UN released multiple reports warning of the dangers of climate change. While in the United States, the climate crisis emerged as one of the issues among Democratic presidential hopefuls.

Indigenous Mexican-American activist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez has been campaigning against climate change since he was six years old. He says now, more than ever, the need for Indigenous voices is being recognised.

"Every part of the crisis is directly connected to social justice, to racial justice, to the human rights violations that are happening ... and now, more than ever, there is a recognition of the need of Indigenous communities' voices being at the forefront," Martinez said.

"Indigenous communities have carried the knowledge and wisdom of how to live in balance with the planet, with nature for generations, so for us it's not just about being acknowledged as the victims but also as serious part of the conversation of how we are going to get through this, how we are going to build the future that we know is possible and I think we have to do a lot better job of ensuring that representation." 

Martinez, along with 20 other activists, is suing the US federal government for climate inaction.

He was also involved in another lawsuit against the fracking industry in Colorado, but lost the case. Despite this, Martinez says he remains positive that "people power" can overcome big money.

"I think the power of people is being recognised as an unstoppable force, both with the mobilisation of bodies on the streets, the mobilisation in our courts, the way that we are taking to the polls," he said.

Source: Al Jazeera