World leaders’ inaction on climate change has violated children’s rights – Thunberg

UN Photo/Cia Pak Swedish climate activist, Greta Thunberg , speaks at the opening of the UN Climate Action Summit 2019.

Teenage campaigner Greta Thunberg and fellow young activists have filed an official complaint to the UN claiming world leaders’ inaction on the climate crisis has violated children’s rights. 

The petitioners, aged from 8 to 17 and from 12 different countries, fought back tears at the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) headquarters as they described how their lives and homes have been upended by climate change because of politicians’ inaction.

‘They promised to protect our rights and have not done that’

“World leaders have failed to keep what they promised – they promised to protect our rights and they have not done that,” said Thunberg, after an impassioned address to the U.N. General Assembly.

The complaint is the latest action by young people to highlight the growing threat of climate change and the risks of ignoring it. On 20 September some four million people participated in a global climate strike, inspired by Thunberg, the 16-year-old who started a weekly school strike in August 2018 to raise awareness about the issue.

The complaint accuses the respondent countries – Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany and Turkey – of knowing about the impact of their carbon emissions on the climate and doing nothing to mitigate it.

Children can seek redress

The respondents are a few of the biggest carbon emitters out of the 45 countries that have signed a protocol allowing children to seek redress under the 1989 Convention of the Rights of the Child, a treaty that declared the unassailable civil, economic, social, political and cultural rights of children. Other major carbon emitters like the United States and China have not signed the protocol.

Catarina Lorenzo, 12, of Salvador, Brazil, said: “We will not permit them to take our future away. They had the right to have their future; why don’t we have the right to have our own?”

Scientists say crisis has intensified

Global warming caused by heat-trapping greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels has already led to droughts and heat waves, melting glaciers, rising sea levels and floods, and scientists say the crisis has intensified since world leaders signed the 2015 Paris Agreement to combat climate change.

More than 60 world leaders and chief executives of energy and financial companies are expected to address the General Assembly this week and announce climate finance measures and transitioning from coal power.


Author: Simon Weedy

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