the youth speak out at COP 17

The words of Anjali Appadurai, at a youth intervention inside the COP 17 delegations, on Friday the 11th of November 2011

“I speak for more than half the world’s population.

We are the silent majority. You’ve given us a seat in this hall, but our interests are not on the table.

What does it take to get a stake in this game? Lobbyists? Corporate influence? Money?

You have been negotiating all of my life. In that time, you’ve failed to meet pledges, you’ve missed targets, and you’ve broken promises.

But you’ve heard this all before.

We’re in Africa, home to communities on the frontline of climate change. The world’s poorest countries need funding for adaptation NOW. The Horn of Africa, and those nearby in KwaMashu needed it yesterday.

But as 2012 dawns, our Green Climate Fund remains empty.

The IEA tells us that we have 5 years until the window to avoid irreversible climate change closes.

The science tells us that we have 5 years, MAXIMUM. You’re saying: give us 10.

The most stark betrayal of your generation’s responsibility to ours is that you call this AMBITION.

Where is the courage in this room? Now is not the time for incremental action. In the long-run, these will be seen as the defining moments of an era in which narrow self-interest prevailed over science, reason, and common compassion.

There is real ambition in this room but it’s been dismissed as radical, deemed not “politically possible”.

Long-term thinking is not radical. What’s radical is to completely alter the planet’s climate, to betray the future of my generation and to condemn millions to death by climate change.

What’s radical is to write off the fact that change is within our reach.

2011 was the year in which the silent majority found their voice, the year when the bottom shook the top, the year when the radical became reality.

Common but differentiated and historical responsibility are NOT up for debate. Respect the foundational principles of this Convention. Respect the integral values of humanity. Respect the future of your descendants.

Mandela said “it always seems impossible, until it’s done”.

So, distinguished delegates and governments around the world – get it done.”

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