Nov 12, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Climate activist challenges COP26 policymakers to "prove us wrong"

Climate activist Vanessa Nakate at COP26 Glasgow on Nov. 11.
Climate activist Vanessa Nakate at COP26 Glasgow on Nov. 11. Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate in a speech Thursday challenged policymakers at COP26 to prove the skeptical youth climate movement wrong by following through with the pledges made so far at the meeting.

Why it matters: Climate activists have been largely doubtful toward the climate promises from this year's assembly because they are not mandatory, meaning no one will be punished for failing to live up to them.

What they're saying: “I’m actually here to beg you to prove us wrong. God help us all if you fail to prove us wrong," Nakate said.

  • "Of course, the idea that countries, companies and investors committing to drastic and immediate action to reduce emissions would be most welcome. But let us be honest. We have been here before," she added.
  • "There has been 25 COPs before this one. And every year, leaders come to these climate negations with an array of new pledges, commitments and promises, and as each COP comes and goes, emissions continue to rise. This year will be no different."
  • "We are drowning in promises."

The big picture: This year's assembly is viewed as crucial since climate scientists warn that time is running out to secure necessary greenhouse gas emission cuts to avoid potentially devastating impacts during the next several decades.

  • Greta Thunberg and other youth climate activists Wednesday petitioned United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres to declare a "systemwide, Level 3 climate emergency."

Go deeper: Climate activist Greta Thunberg calls COP26 a "failure"

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