Call to arms: Youth speech to COP high level plenary

This morning Munira Sibai, a Syrian-American student with SustainUs, delivered this speech on behalf of young people (YOUNGO). Although many governments could not be bothered to listen to their citizens, civil society was present in force: supporting Munira and each other in a way that governments can only dream of. Onwards.

I stand before you given two minutes to make the same call for action that has fallen upon deaf ears for too long.

Over the past two weeks, we have seen not only a complete absence of vision but also an active effort by some to move backwards. Those who caused the climate crisis already accepted the responsibility to solve it two decades ago. Today, after eighteen years of inaction, we see these same countries backing away from that obligation. The foundational principle of equity is under attack.

Serious discussions of cutting emissions have been sidelined. Instead, you focus on carbon markets, gambling with our future, throwing lives like poker chips. As you sit here applauding yourselves, the Philippines is being ravaged by its sixteenth extreme weather event this year.  Haiti and Cuba are still counting losses from Hurricane Sandy.  The adaptation fund, necessary because of years of inaction, is in grave danger.

You, the developed world must put forward the carbon cuts we need and the money you pledged.  You are well on your way to leaving a legacy of global devastation. We've been telling you this for years.

So let me now speak beyond the negotiators and directly to the people I represent.

Your governments are failing you. They are afraid that offering visionary pathways to low-carbon economies will make them look foolish, that taking responsibility will make them look weak, that standing up to the money and power of polluters will cost them political support.

Unchecked, this cowardice will cost lives. Here in the halls of the United Nations the voices of global citizens are limited, regulated, and relegated to these short tokenistic statements.  Outside these walls there is a global movement growing up from the grassroots calling for climate justice. 

 و في النهاية: إذا الشعب يوما أراد الحياة      فلابد أن يستجيب القدر 

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