Special adviser to the UN Secretary General and assistant secretary general of the climate change action team Selwin Hart urged young people to continue to be advocates for science in the fight against climate change.
“Science must be at the centre of decision-making on the covid19 crisis and the climate crisis. Not political expediency, but science.”
Hart was speaking at a virtual global youth summit for climate change and health on Friday, facilitated by Barbadian Ashley Lashley, founder of the Hey Foundation.
The forum hosted senior climate change experts and youth activists in the region and around the world to discuss the impact of climate change and the role of youth in policy reform and activism.
Hart said although we have made some progress over the last few years, we are nowhere close to where we need to be. “For us to be on the trajectory to limit the increase of global warming to the 1.5 degree temperature goal, global emissions need to be reduced by about 45 per cent in the next decade…This is not an easy task.”
He said governments are in the process of making some of the most important decisions in the history of mankind as they recover from the covid19 pandemic, to restore economic growth and restore jobs, and climate change needs to be at the heart of those decisions.
“Governments can stay in the past, in an unsustainable, polluted world or they can invest in a greener, inclusive world.”
Hart said young people are the most powerful agents for that change.
Eight-year-old climate activist Licypryiya Kangujam from India said this year is crucial to decide the future of the planet.
“Our leaders are just busy blaming each other instead of finding long term solutions. I want our leaders to do more action otherwise our planet will be dying soon,” she said.
She said although people often criticise her for being too young, age is just a number and she believes she can be influential in the climate change discussion.
“Covid19 weakened our movement but not our spirits. I had to cancel many events and campaigns, but I still continued to plant trees near my home.”
The forum also addressed the impact of climate change on vulnerable groups, including those with disabilities.
Hart said, “climate impact has a disproportionate impact on those who have contributed least to this problem.”
He said one solution is to incorporate “concrete plans’ for people with disabilities as part of national disaster plans, which is already being done in some countries. He added that young people need to continue to advocate for inclusivity in climate impact conversations.
Hart said the needs of vulnerable groups must be placed at the heart of the conversation and decision-making.
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