Young Amazon activist’s powerful climate warning at COP26

“Today the climate is warming. The animals disappear. The rivers are dying and our plants are not blooming like they did before.

“The earth speaks. She tells us we have no more time.”

Ms Surui called on world leaders to take a different, faster path towards reducing carbon emissions and global warming.

“It’s not 2030 or 2050. It is now,” she said, adding that one of her, when she was young, was murdered to protect the Amazon.

“Indigenous people are at the forefront of the climate crisis, and we need to be at the heart of the decisions that are being made here.”

World leaders have made various new promises to reduce emissions up to COP26, which is considered to be the key to limiting global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Young Samoan activist Brianna Fruean on Monday urged delegates at the summit to have “the political will to do the right thing, use the right words and follow it up with long-awaited action”.

Fruean said young Pacific islanders have been leading the region in pushing for greater climate action.

“We are not just victims of this crisis. We have been robust beacons of hope. Pacific youth have gathered behind the shout. We do not drown. We are fighting, ”she said.

Fruean said that when she was young, she was taught the meaning of language and told delegates about a proverb in Samoan culture that translates to “even stone decays, but words remain”.

“[It is] a lesson in knowing how words can be used, how text can change everything, how each word you use is weighted, ”she said.

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“[It is a lesson in] how changing one word or number could reformulate worlds, how climate action can be vastly different from climate justice, how 2 degrees could mean the end, and 1.5 could mean a chance to fight.

“You have all the power here today to get better, to remember that in your meeting rooms and the preparation of documents there is more than just black and white objects, to remember that in your words you use the weapons that can save us or sell us out. “

With just over 1 degree warming since the Industrial Revolution, the world has seen several extreme heat waves, floods, storms and rising seas, putting island nations and First Nations cultures at particular risk.

Other speakers at the opening of COP26 on Monday included Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and UN chief Antonio Guterres, the latter of whom said “we are digging our own graves” by doing no more to combat the climate crisis.

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