A youth activist on the climate crisis: politicians won't save us

(The Guardian, 14 Dec 2018) At the COP24 conference, leaders lack the urgency felt by communities on the frontlines of a global threat.

As wildfires burn, as temperatures rise, as the last remaining old-growth forests in Poland are logged, world leaders are in Katowice to negotiate the implementation of the Paris climate agreement. To outsiders, UN climate talks may seem like a positive step. Unfortunately, this is COP24.

For 24 years, world leaders have annually talked at each other instead of to one another in hopes of reaching an agreement on how to mitigate the climate crisis. In all that time, they have barely scratched the surface of an issue that the world’s top climate scientists say we now have 12 years to stop – and that is an optimistic estimate.

There’s an urgency in my heart being here in Katowice, knowing that this negotiation process is supposed to protect my generation and ones thereafter. I am afraid of the lack of accountability in the space, knowing that the people with power will be patted on the back for simply coming together without making meaningful policy commitments.

When the news stories come out about successful negotiations, we forget about when leaders pushed to leave “human rights” out of policy wording, or stood on the floor advocating for fossil fuels as a solution (hint: they’re not), all to placate to their own interest in power and maintaining it. They are voluntarily blind to the suffering their decisions cause. Homes will be lost, families will be torn apart by displacement and at borders, and the sea will encroach upon whole societies, exterminating cultures and livelihoods. Developed countries like the US, corrupted by fossil fuel interests, are to blame.

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The Guardian, 14 Dec 2018: A youth activist on the climate crisis: politicians won't save us