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Youths tell leaders: ‘we deserve a future’

COP25’s slogan is ‘Time for Action’ but “it’s been time for action for much too long." Credit: Pexels

“We deserve a future.”

“Our leaders cannot let us down.”

“We must continue to fight.”

These were the calls by young climate activists from various countries on Wednesday in Madrid on the margins of the 2019 UN Climate Change Conference, COP25.

Humanity is going through its worst crisis ever and young people are its first victims, Jinhyun Park, a South Korean student said.

“We are calling on everyone to join our struggle against the climate crisis because we deserve a future,” she added at a press conference in which she participated alongside half a dozen other members of the “Fridays for Future” movement, launched by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who had not yet arrived in Madrid for the UN climate conference.

“Our leaders cannot let us down,” said Joel Pena, a young activist from Chile’s indigenous Mapuche community. “Unless States raise their ambitions in 2020, our future will be climate chaos.” Hailing “all those who fight each day to have a worthy life,” he said, “it’s for them that we continue to fight, even if we risk our lives.”

Ta’Kayia Blaney of the Tia A’min people of Canada insisted on the importance of indigenous people to the defence of the environment. “We, indigenous youth, are rising up against the industrial megaprojects (…) and the land they wish to destroy,” said the 18-year-old. “Our rights as the protectors of nature must be respected; there is no climate justice without indigenous justice.”

For his part, 16-year-old Swiss activist Linus Dolder stressed that “placing the interests of a few selfish people above the survival interests of millions, billions of people is undemocratic, criminal and inhuman.”

French student Léa Ilardo, who lives in Quebec, stressed that the group “will not stop our mobilisation for as long as you do not act as our real leaders”.

The some 200 signatories of the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming to +2°C, and even +1,5°C, are meeting in Madrid until 13 December, but the meeting may well disappoint anyone who expects it to yield a stronger ambition by global leaders to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

COP25’s slogan is ‘Time for Action’ but “it’s been time for action for much too long,” commented Toby Thorpe, a young Australian representative of Fridays for Future. “We will continue to strike until the world’s leaders not only hear us but listen to us.”

The Brussels Times