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Climate Change Advocates Criticize World Leaders at COP26

Earlier in the news, we heard from our Senior Reporter, Hipolito Novelo, who told us the significance of the COP26 Summit happening in Glasgow (glahz-goe). Many important voices advocating for meaningful measures to address climate change are making a splash at the conference as they have been calling out world leaders for failing to act good on their promises to save earth. But aside from not making good on their promises, the activists are also pointing out the irony of the high carbon emissions from the private jets of the world leaders who traveled to the COP26 Summit. Dale McDougall reports.

Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados: “We can work with who is ready to go because the train is ready to leave and those who are not yet ready we need to continue to ring circle and to remind them that their people, not our people, but their citizens need them to get on board as soon as possible.” 

That clarion call by Prime Minister Mia Motley of Barbados is perhaps one of the most important messages to come from parts of the world where the carbon footprint is the smallest yet the people of the Caribbean, including Belize face the most disastrous ramifications of climate change. And that’s why the expectations were high going into COP 26 in Glasgow. But away from the speeches from world leaders, young advocates are also calling on governments to step away from the lip service and do their part. Sudanese advocate Nisreen Elsaim represents the world’s youth which makes up about 47% of the global population. And she argues that youth voices in the work to protect our Earth should remain at the forefront because not only do the 15 to 29 age group represents the largest portion of the globe’s people but they’re the ones who will inherit a warming world.

Nisreen Elsaim, Climate Activist: “We are basically represent more than the half of the population of the planet. So it’s not a gift or it’s not a privilege to listen to us. Actually, it’s an obligation because we represent most of the population of the world. After saying this, I feel very heavy speaking to you today, not because of public speaking issues I don’t have these issues. But because I don’t see our legitimate Prime Minister Dr. Abdalla Hamdok and his cabinet among you today because of what’s happening in my country, Sudan. Which actually reminds me that all of the journeys and the fights for justice are very much similar. We have very similar features in all of the fights that we are actually pursuing in our journey. Every time we have people doing their best, all of the possible and a little bit of the impossible to actually make things work but unfortunately political will always hinders these efforts. Young people in all cases are giving their time, efforts, ideas and even money to preserve the rights to freedom, peace and justice and also of course clean and healthy environment. The right to have a future, the right to even work in their election campaigns to become Prime Ministers or presidents of their countries to become you basically one day if we have this future. Young people around the world but specifically in Africa are surrounded by enormous challenges, all of them somehow related to the absence of political will.” 

And that political will is what climate activists all over the world are calling for before it becomes too late to act. COP 26 is just underway since Sunday and thus far there were two significant pledges more than 100 countries committed to stopping and reversing the effects of deforestation by the year 2030. And a group of about 90 countries led by the US have pledged to reduce methane emissions by that time as well. But climate activist Greta Thunberg, however, argues that the time for talking is done and her expectations are not very high.

Greta Thunberg, Climate Activist: “This COP 26 is so far just like the previous COPs  and that has led us nowhere. They have led us nowhere. Inside COP they’re just politicians and people in power pretending to take our future seriously, pretending to take the present seriously of the people who are being affected already today by the climate crisis. Change is not going to come from inside, that is not leadership. This is leadership. This is what leadership looks like. We say no more blah blah blah, no more exploitation of people and nature and the planet.”

Ugandan activist Vanessa Nakate told the world just last week that Africa, which is a continent only responsible for 3% of co2 emissions, is facing floods, heatwaves and so many terrible things which has already displaced millions of people and millions more will face adverse food insecurity. It’s a reality she says equally frightens and enrages people.

Vanessa Nakate, Climate Activist: “I have seen more and more how the climate crisis is affecting the African continent, which is ironic given that Africa is the lowest emitter of co2 emissions of all continents except for Antarctica. Historically, Africa is responsible for only 3% of global emissions, and yet Africans are already suffering some of the most brutal impacts fueled by the climate crisis: rapidly intensifying hurricanes, devastating floods and withering droughts. Many Africans are losing their lives while countless more have lost their livelihoods. The droughts and floods have left nothing behind for the people. Nothing except for pain, agony, suffering, starvation and death. A recent World Bank report warned that we could see up to 86 million people in Sub Saharan Africa alone, displaced due to rising sea levels, desertification, declining freshwater and food scarcity. Over the past few months, there have been deadly heat waves and wildfires in Algeria and devastating flooding in countries like Uganda and Nigeria. And the UN has declared that Madagascar is on the brink of the world’s first climate change famine. 10s of 1000s of people are already suffering catastrophic levels of hunger and food insecurity after four years without rain.”

But the irony has not been lost on people who have already pointed out that traveling to Glasgow itself has put a significant carbon footprint on the already dying Earth. The Daily Record reports that more than 400 private jets carrying world leaders and business executives to COP 26 will blast about 13,000 tons of co2 into the atmosphere- that’s more than the UK constituent country of Scotland burns in a year. As COP 26 pushes on young people are demanding that their leaders do more than inking pieces of paper and not copping out of their responsibilities to protect the earth so that civilization continues.