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Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Greta Thunberg at Climate Action Summit: "young people are starting to understand your betrayal"

Three speeches from the UN Climate Action Summit: Greta Thunberg, António Guterres UN Secretary General, and Pope Francis.

Greta Thunberg full speech at UN Climate Summit, New York

"This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be standing here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to me for hope? How dare you! You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction. And all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!

"For more than 30 years the science has been crystal clear. How dare you continue to look away, and come here saying that you are doing enough, when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight.

With today’s emissions levels, our remaining CO2 budget will be gone in less than 8.5 years.

You say you “hear” us and that you understand the urgency. But no matter how sad and angry I am, I don’t want to believe that. Because if you fully understood the situation and still kept on failing to act, then you would be evil. And I refuse to believe that.

The popular idea of cutting our emissions in half in 10 years only gives us a 50% chance of staying below 1.5C degrees, and the risk of setting off irreversible chain reactions beyond human control.

Maybe 50% is acceptable to you. But those numbers don’t include tipping points, most feedback loops, additional warming hidden by toxic air pollution or the aspects of justice and equity. They also rely on my and my children’s generation sucking hundreds of billions of tonnes of your CO2 out of the air with technologies that barely exist. So a 50% risk is simply not acceptable to us – we who have to live with the consequences.

To have a 67% chance of staying below a 1.5C global temperature rise – the best odds given by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – the world had 420 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide left to emit back on 1 January 2018. Today that figure is already down to less than 350 gigatonnes. How dare you pretend that this can be solved with business-as-usual and some technical solutions. With today’s emissions levels, that remaining CO2 budget will be entirely gone in less than eight and a half years.

There will not be any solutions or plans presented in line with these figures today. Because these numbers are too uncomfortable. And you are still not mature enough to tell it like it is.

You are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us I say we will never forgive you. We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.


António Guterres UN Secretary General speech at Climate Action Summit


Ladies and gentlemen,

Nature is angry.

And we fool ourselves if we think we can fool nature.

Because nature always strikes back.

And around the world, nature is striking back with fury.

Consider the last few months.

July — the hottest month ever.

June through August — the hottest summer in the Northern hemisphere ever; and the second hottest winter in the Southern hemisphere ever.

The years 2015 to 2019 — the five hottest years on the books ever.

Our warming earth is issuing a chilling cry: Stop.

If we don’t urgently change our ways of life, we jeopardize life itself.

Look around.

Seas are rising and oceans are acidifying.

Glaciers are melting and corals are bleaching.

Droughts are spreading and wildfires are burning.

Deserts are expanding and access to water is dwindling.

Heatwaves are scorching and natural disasters are multiplying.

Storms everywhere are more intense. More frequent. More deadly.

I have seen it with my own eyes – from Dominica to the Sahel to the South Pacific.

In May, I went to the island nation of Tuvalu where I witnessed an entire country fighting for its very existence against the rising seas.

Two months ago, I visited Mozambique which was pummelled by unprecedented back-to-back cyclones.

A few days ago, I was in the Bahamas, where Hurricane Dorian pounded the country for two unrelenting days.

The destruction was not simply appalling. It was apocalyptic.

Make no mistake, when we see those images, we are not just seeing damage.

We are seeing the future --- if we do not act now.

Dear friends,

Someone asked me the other day, doesn’t all of this make you despair?

My answer was a clear and resounding no.

I am hopeful.

And I am hopeful because of you.

This is not a climate talk summit. We have had enough talk.

This is not a climate negotiation summit because we don’t negotiate with nature.

This is a climate action summit.

From the beginning, I said the ticket to entry is not a beautiful speech, but concrete action.

And you are here with commitments. Governments are here to show you are serious about enhancing Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement.

Cities and businesses are here showing what leadership looks like, investing in a green future.

Financial actors are here to scale-up action and deploy resources in fundamentally new and meaningful ways.

And coalitions are here with partnerships and initiatives to move us closer to a resilient, carbon-neutral world by 2050.

I am very grateful to the leaders and members of the 9 wide-ranging coalitions that worked with great creativity and passion so that we can all get the most out of this Summit.

And young people – above all, young people – are here providing solutions, insisting on accountability, demanding urgent action.

They are right.

My generation has failed in its responsibility to protect our planet. That must change.

The climate emergency is a race we are losing, but it is a race we can win.

The climate crisis is caused by us – and the solutions must come from us.

We have the tools: technology is on our side.

Readily-available technological substitutions already exist for more than 70 per cent of today's emissions.

And we have the roadmap: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

And we have the imperative: undeniable, irrefutable science.

The best science, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, tells us that any temperature rise above 1.5 degrees will lead to major and irreversible damage to the ecosystems that support us.

But science also tells us it is not too late. We can do it. Limiting warming to 1.5 ºC is still possible.

But it will require fundamental transformations in all aspects of society — how we grow food, use land, fuel our transport and power our economies.

We need to link climate change to a new model of development – a fair globalization – with less suffering, more justice and harmony between people and planet.

Dear friends,

There is a cost to everything.

But the biggest cost is doing nothing.

The biggest cost is subsidizing a dying fossil fuel industry, building more and more coal power plants, and denying what is plain as day.

That we are in a deep climate hole and to get out, we must first stop digging.

After all, is it common sense to give trillions in hard-earned taxpayers’ money to the fossil fuel industry to boost hurricanes, spread tropical diseases, and heighten conflict?

Is it common sense to build ever more coal plants that are choking our future?

Is it common sense to reward pollution that kills millions with dirty air and makes it dangerous for people in cities around the world to sometimes even venture out of their homes?

It is time to shift taxes from salaries to carbon, and to tax pollution, not people.

Dear friends,

As the scientific community has told us again and again, we need to cut greenhouse emissions by 45% by 2030; reach carbon neutrality by 2050; and limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees by the end of the century.

And we need to accelerate financial support. The replenishment of the Green Climate Fund is crucial, as is fulfilling the commitment by developed countries to mobilize $100 billion a year from public and private sources by 2020 for mitigation and adaptation in developing countries.

Even if we succeed in reducing emissions, many people are already living with the dramatic effects of climate change. Adaptation has therefore become a top priority and an essential condition for increasing the resilience of countries and communities and avoiding human suffering.

I thank those countries that have already stepped up their support, especially those that have doubled their contributions to the Green Climate Fund.

I encourage all of you to take bold actions towards the global transformation of finance in line with a carbon neutral world.

Dear friends,

This summit is not meant to solve all our problems overnight; it is a springboard to effectively implement the goals set by the Paris Agreement.

We will build on the momentum we generate here for the December UN Climate Conference in Chile, and next year’s Sustainable Transport Conference in Beijing, Oceans Conference in Lisbon, Biodiversity Conference in Kunming and the Nature Summit in New York.

We need more and more ambition, more and more pressure, and more and more good, old-fashioned truth-telling.

We can send the political and market signals for a transformation to a green economy for better lives, better jobs, better health, improved food security, more equality and sustainable growth.

By acting together, we will leave no one behind.

Dear friends,

Science tells us that [on] our current path, we face at least 3-degrees Celsius of global heating by the end of the century.

I will not be there, but my granddaughters will.

And your grandchildren, too.

I refuse to be an accomplice in the destruction of their home and only home.

I will not be a silent witness to the crime of dooming our present and destroying their right to a sustainable future.

It is my obligation – our obligation – to do everything to stop the climate crisis before it stops us.

Time is running out. But it is not too late.

So, let us heed the calls of wise leaders -- religious, business and especially young people who are taking to the streets to demand that we change our relationship with nature now.

Let’s lace up our running shoes and win the climate race for us all.

Thank you.

Pope Francis video message to the UN Climate action summit. (Translation from Spanish)

"I would like to thank the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr António Guterres, for convening this meeting and for drawing the attention of Heads of State and Government - and of the entire international community and world public opinion - to one of the most serious and worrying phenomena of our time: climate change.

"With the Paris Agreement of 12 December 2015, the international community became aware of the urgency and need for a collective response to help build our common home. However, four years after that historic Agreement, we can see that the commitments made by States are still very "weak", and are far from achieving the objectives set.

"Along with so many initiatives, not only by governments but by civil society as a whole, it is necessary to ask whether there is a real political will to allocate greater human, financial and technological resources to mitigate the negative effects of climate change and to help the poorest and most vulnerable populations, who suffer the most.

"With honesty, responsibility and courage we have to put our intelligence "at the service of another type of progress, one which is healthier, more human, more social, more integral" (Laudato si', 112), capable of placing economy at the service of the human person, building peace and protecting the environment.

"While the situation is not good and the planet is suffering, the window of opportunity is still open. We are still in time. Let us not let it close

"I would like these three key words - honesty, courage and responsibility - to be at the heart of your work today and tomorrow. May they accompany you together with my best wishes and with my prayer.

"Thank you very much."

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