Something very significant happened yesterday as world leaders met at the UN climate summit in New York. The leaders gathered for their 2019 General Assembly at the time of an increased agitation from worldwide movements against global warming.
The momentous part of their meeting is that, for the first time in the history of the organisation, the international media is reporting that a group of young activists are suing five countries for ignoring the risks of global warming for “decades” and worsened the climate crisis, in a landmark lawsuit filed with the UN on Monday.
The complaint, filed by youth petitioners aged between eight and 17, alleges that Brazil, France, Germany, Argentina and Turkey knew about the dangers of climate change but failed to curb their carbon emissions and continued to promote fossil fuels.
According to the report, the lawsuit was filed with the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, which seeks to safeguard the rights of children. The committee, comprised of 18 independent child rights experts, will determine if the complaint is admissible and, if so, gather responses from the named countries in order to make recommendations.
It outlines the various ways in which climate change has affected the youth petitioners’ lives — from wildfires and flooding, drought and worsening air quality, as well as mental anxiety and depression.
Although all countries bear some responsibility for tackling climate change, the complainant said, the global effort to address the crisis cannot succeed without the “leadership” of the five named countries.
“People who are older aren’t paying as much attention because they will not be as affected. They don’t take us children seriously, but we want to show them we are serious,” said Ayakha Melithafa, a 17-year old from South Africa who is one of the petitioners”, the report said.
While this is ongoing in New York and has attracted global attention, back home, it is rather strange that the climate change strike has not caught up with Ghanaians. The participation of the youth in Ghana in the global march has been low key and that is surprising.
It was reported that only few students marched in the capital Accra, saying climate change has sped up coastal erosion which is affecting people on the country’s coast.
Despite various demonstrations in cities across Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas, about 44 per cent of the population of Ghana have not heard of climate change, a study by Afrobarometer suggests.
The Ghanaian Times is concerned that while nearly four million youth activists across the world are demonstrating and calling on world leaders to do something about climate change, there appears to be no voice in Ghana.
This is the time for all of us to join the global movement and take the environment more serious if we want to be counted among those who care about the environment.
We all have a role to play not only as youth but adults who care about the future of the world and its children.
The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, yesterday issued a dire warning about the “apocalyptic” impact of climate change at the opening of the UN climate summit in New York.
“Our warming earth is issuing a chilling cry: Stop. If we don’t urgently change our ways of life, we jeopardise life itself.
My generation has failed in its responsibility to protect our planet. That must change. The climate emergency is a race we are losing, but it is a race we can win.” he said
No one needs any further warning. We all have to get involved in protecting the environment and the world