Youth climate activists can ‘change the world’, says UN chief

UN head António Guterres said that the youth activists who took to the streets in climate action demonstrations worldwide on Friday can change the world.

Writing in an opinion piece for The Guardian, UN chief António Guterres addressed the youth activists directly, telling them that he understood their anxiety and fear for the future. He added, however, that not only is humankind capable of tremendous achievements, but also “your voices give me hope”.

“Together, with your help and thanks to your efforts, we can and must beat this threat and create a cleaner, safer, greener world for everyone,” he added.

According to Guterres, the youth climate activists around the world have understood something that the older generation hasn’t: “We are in a race for our lives, and we are losing. The window of opportunity is closing; we no longer have the luxury of time, and climate delay is almost as dangerous as climate denial.”

In the opinion piece, Guterres wrote that global emissions are reaching record levels – and continue to rise. CO2 concentrations in our atmosphere are now the highest they have been in 3 million years. In perhaps his strongest words, the UN chief bluntly stated that the historic Paris Agreement is “meaningless without ambitious action”.

To build on the momentum that the youth climate activists have unleashed, Guterres announced that he will bring world leaders together at a Climate Action Summit later this year.

“I am calling on all leaders to come to New York in September with concrete, realistic plans to enhance their nationally determined contributions by 2020, in line with reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent over the next decade, and to net zero by 2050.”

Image credit: Leon Enrique via Flickr

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