Children have realised the importance of saving the planet for their future. However, they need everyone to come to the table to make a meaningful change.
“Humanity is waging war on nature. This is suicidal.” These are not the words of a fringe eco-activist, rather a stark and chilling statement of fact from the UN chief Antonio Guterres.
He is right, of course. We must act now to make a lasting and positive difference to every organism and ecosystem on what Carl Sagan famously coined the ‘Pale Blue Dot’. Failure to act will mean a climate catastrophe that would dwarf the COVID-19 pandemic that has brought the world to its knees.
As a child rights organisation, we are deeply concerned for the hundreds of millions of climate-vulnerable children whose futures are at stake. We worry for their education, future economic activity, for their survival. We need them to thrive. One day they may grow up to be scientists working on a cure for cancer or a vaccine for a deadly virus. Or a teacher, even a world leader.
In Asia, I lead a team of thousands of people supporting children who are on the frontline of climate change crises. From this year’s devastating typhoons in the Philippines and Vietnam to the mass flooding in parts of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, we see the impact of erratic weather on children and their families. The recent floods in Vietnam were catastrophic, for example. In a matter of days, they washed away homes and schools, rolling back years of hard-fought economic gains and human development.
Which brings us to the landmark Paris climate change agreement that committed countries to limiting global temperature rise to a ceiling of 1.5 degrees Celsius. Five years ago this week, the agreement was hailed as a major global breakthrough with legally binding commitments on curbing the harmful emissions that warm our planet. In Paris, world leaders cheered and whooped at the deal. Around the world, we applauded their efforts, relieved that humanity would fight climate change.
Fast forward to November 2019 and the release of a UN report on carbon emissions warning that the world is on course for more than a 3-degree spike in temperatures, even if existing climate commitments are met.
A 3-degree rising in temperatures is catastrophic for the children we support in Asia and other parts of the world. It will lead to even more intense and frequent weather-related disasters, forced migration, hunger, exploitation and poverty.
This has been a horrible year for humanity, but we will face many more difficult times without decisive action on climate change.
This was going to be the year of turbocharged action to address climate crises. Unfortunately, the pandemic has meant that unstoppable momentum on climate change has been somewhat sidelined. However, communities have not stood still. They are acting to help future proof themselves against the worst impacts of climate change. And we are helping them to adapt to build their resilience to natural hazards like floods and typhoons.
But more, much more, must be done to help the most climate-vulnerable communities who have been promised but not received $100bn a year in climate finance from wealthy countries.
Humanity’s lesson this year is clear: when faced with an existential threat we can mobilise trillions of dollars and the world’s best minds to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. Warlike efforts mean we finish the year with the hope that humanity will be successfully vaccinated against COVID-19. This must spur immediate and intense action on climate crises.
Children must be at the heart of this action too. Over the last few years, we have seen the power of children and the strength and dynamism of their ideas and activism on climate change. Greta Thunberg has inspired millions of children around the world to demand change and to join her in calling for greater action to save their planet from disastrous climate change.
We must empower children and support them, especially the most deprived and marginalised, to be part of the climate solution. They can’t do this alone.
As we build momentum towards next year’s climate talks in Glasgow, world leaders must prove to us that they’re resolutely serious about tackling climate change. If we don’t act now, then future generations of children staring into the climate change abyss will ask, “Why didn’t you?”
Original source: https://news.trust.org