A group of 14 young climate leaders, including Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, filed a legal petition on Wednesday pleading with the United Nations to “declare a system-wide climate emergency,” a push that came amid growing anger over the milquetoast promises emerging from the COP26 summit.
“The climate emergency – which threatens every person on the planet for the foreseeable future – is a threat at least as serious as a global pandemic and also requires urgent international action,” reads the petition, which was also signed by American climate activist Alexandria Villaseñor. , Ridhima Pandey from India, and Ranton Anjain and Litokne Kabua from the Marshall Islands.
The petition specifically urges UN Secretary-General António Guterres – who for years has warned that climate change poses an “existential threat” to humanity – and the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) to view the planetary crisis as a “level 3 emergency”. On its website, the IASC notes that Tier 3 protocols are designed to “activate the operational capabilities and resources needed to meet critical humanitarian needs on the ground.”
“Countries that emit the least face the greatest risks,” notes the Young Leaders Dossier. “UNICEF has identified 33 countries as ‘extremely high risk’ for children due to climate change threats. These countries are home to half of the world’s children but are collectively responsible for only 9% of CO2 emissions. The top 10 emitting countries account for almost 70% of global emissions, but only one, India, is classified as “extremely high risk”.
The new petition comes just a month after the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child refused to hear a case brought by many of the same young activists behind the latest filing. The rejected petition argued that countries were “violating their rights to life, health and culture” by failing to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases that warm the planet.
“I have no doubt that this judgment will haunt the Committee in the future,” Villaseñor, a 16-year-old climate activist, said in a statement last month. “When climate disasters are even more severe than they are now, the committee will deeply regret not having done the right thing when it had the chance.”
Talk to Earther On Wednesday, Villaseñor expressed hope that the new petition will send “an urgent message” to the UN and world leaders, whom young activists have accused of endangering future generations with persistent inaction amid the crisis. worsening climate crisis.
The Guardian reported that the UN “has already seen a draft” of the latest Young Climate Leaders brief and that “a Level 3 emergency is being discussed, but a spokesperson for the secretary-general’s office declined to say whether it could be implemented”.
“We had 26 COPs that were failures,” Villaseñor said Wednesday. “Now is the time to act, and we must do so urgently. It is the young and the young who continually remind those in power that we need to do something now, and this petition is an important way to do that.
“The United Nations connects the whole world and we need global action against the climate crisis,” she added. “In order to show great leadership, they must declare a climate emergency.”