Parents plead on children’s behalf at climate meet

Updated December 06, 2019

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Young men dressed in earth costumes ride the metro towards the venue of the UN climate change conference (COP25) to deliver leaflets promoting public transport to reduce pollution in Madrid, Spain, December 5. — Reuters
Young men dressed in earth costumes ride the metro towards the venue of the UN climate change conference (COP25) to deliver leaflets promoting public transport to reduce pollution in Madrid, Spain, December 5. — Reuters

MADRID: Parents from around the globe on Thursday said governments locked in negotiations at UN talks in Madrid must beat back the threat of global warming to “give our children the future that they deserve”.

“Our children are being handed a broken world on the verge of climate chaos and ecological breakdown,” they said in an open declaration from 222 associations in 27 countries.

“As parents, seeing this is agonising.”

The plea comes the day before young climate strikers led by Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg plan to march through the Spanish capital under the Friday for Futures banner.

“Many of the delegates at COP25 are also parents and we appeal to these delegates in particular,” the declaration said.

“Addressing the climate crisis is not the responsibility of our children — it’s our job as adults and parents to act.”

The 12-day UN talks, under way since Monday, are mired in the small print of the 2015 Paris climate treaty’s “rule book”.

“Every person in the negotiations has a responsibility to act to ensure our children’s rights are safeguarded, and to disregard vested corporate interests,” said Isabella Prata, a mother of two, from Parents for Future Brazil.

Protecting future generations is a recurring leitmotif at the talks, echoed by leaders and frontline diplomats alike.

On Monday, as 40 heads of state took turns working similar themes, Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen at one point held up a stuffed polar bear.

“All of you, just like me, are so-called decision-makers, and probably have children or grandchildren who you love,” he said in a scolding tone.

“Think about those children when you take a decision on behalf of your country,” he said. “Because our children will later think about us — about what we did, or what we did not do.”

Costa Rica’s President Carlos Alvarado made it even more personal. “I have a six-year-old kid,” he told a gathering of leaders from climate-vulnerable nations. “If we are not courageous enough to take action in these weeks, we will not only be failing me and my kid, we will be letting down humanity.”

“At our current rate of emissions, we are dangerously close to reaching tipping points which could unravel human civilisation within our own and our children’s lifetimes,” the declaration said.

“We are at a turning point in the story of our species, and you, the delegates of this influential UN climate summit, have an opportunity to choose what happens next. We know that you can and we trust that you will.”

Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2019