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Source: Small Island Developing States

The following piece is adapted from a letter delivered by the youth climate organization CliMates to Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris, on 11 December 2020, the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement.

Are we disappointed? Yes, we are.

Are we infuriated? Yes, we are.

Are we worried? Yes, we are.

Nothing new here. And there is more.

In 2015, we were there. Just like everyone else, we saw leaders from all over the world shake hands, stand next to each other, and flash a big smile for the photos, put their hands in the air, gather in joy and victory. Five years later, here we are.

Now, if you will just excuse us for a moment; we are not feeling like celebrating.

Facts, scientific proofs, numbers, graphs—it is all right here and you know the drill: the sixth mass extinction is on its way, our biodiversity is dramatically declining, our waters and soils are knowingly and repeatedly poisoned, our forests are burned to the ground, the air we breathe and the oceans we swim in are polluted.

Nothing new here. And there is more.

Just like five years ago, youth are saying that governments, laws, companies are not going far enough in preserving our future. Coercive measures are too few or too easily avoided, and civil society is constantly being pushed around and disavowed. During demonstrations, symposiums, and student COPs, youth cry out their love for the planet.

Nothing new here. And there is more.

Just like five years ago, we march against a job market that does not promote equality. We march against a numbing workplace. We march against a broken society where discrimination, competition, and repression are everywhere. Violence has become ordinary and hits the poorest and most vulnerable populations. We have shared these findings with our countries’ leaders, but our grievances are piled up somewhere on a desk, at the end of a corridor, in a basement.

Nothing new here. And there is more.

Just like five years ago, we yell and shout to governments, to lawmakers, and to private companies that they are not doing enough. We yell and shout that coercive measures are not efficient and it seems so on purpose. We yell and shout that civilians are constantly hampered whenever they start to rebel. We yell and shout that our impact, as humans, could be a positive one. We yell and shout that we could learn from nature and be inspired. We yell and shout our love for Mother Earth.

Nothing new here. And there is more.

Today, as we celebrate the COP 21 anniversary, we denounce yet another issue. It is a pernicious, an insidious, and a vicious one. We call it youth-washing. Youth organizations have managed to become indisputable leaders when it comes to climate change and global emergency. However, we do not sit at the table, still. Of course, we have been given fallacious opportunities: phony partnerships, one or two seats as members of some boards, fake committees, preposterous meetings, a few elected representatives. It is nothing but a masquerade. We shout, but our voices do not go through the gateway. You are in, we are out. We stay by the doormat, next to our signs and candle lights.

For the last five years, from the 1,000 school demonstrators to the 150 students who organized the Mock COP 26, we kept our word: we have been true to ourselves, we have occupied public space, we have shown that we are capable, that we are responsible. We have shown that we are not going anywhere.

For the last five years, you have been pretending to listen to our dreams, our hopes, our anger, our democracy, our visions of a perfect dream. The only green in your life are dollar bills. You pretend, you exploit, you tweet. You have made promises you do not fulfill.

For the last five years, you refuse to acknowledge life on earth. You deny its legal rights to the environment. You deny the complaint lodged by life on Earth. We are life on Earth. We are life on Earth, and we fight.

Today, we demand to be completely and fully included in every decision-making process.  Today, we demand to join the discussion and be a part of it. Today, we demand to actively participate in ambitious social and political activities not as guests but as partners.

In 2025, when we will celebrate the ten-year anniversary of COP 21, we could, for once, share a piece of cake and blow out the candles together. It will not happen unless our voice is acknowledged and recognized as one that is equal, legitimate, valued, and respected.

You never actually owned Earth. You merely borrowed it from us. You did not look after it. We do not want to be the last generation. If you want your kids and grandkids to be here and alive in 30 years, you have got to put us in charge. Now.

Now starts today.

CliMates is an international youth-led think-and-do tank on climate change gathering together volunteers, both students and young professionals.

MIL OSI Asia Pacific News