Speed Reads

'we need to do something right now'

Youth activists demand UN declare a climate emergency: 'We have had 26 COPs that have been failures'

With the COP26 climate summit nearing its end, Greta Thunberg and other youth activists are petitioning the United Nations to declare a "system-wide climate emergency." 

A group of 14 youth climate activists, including Thunberg, is filing a legal petition calling on United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres to declare the climate crisis a global level 3 emergency, The Guardian reports. A draft of the petition reportedly argues the "climate emergency — which threatens every person on the planet into the foreseeable future — is at least as serious a threat as a global pandemic and similarly requires urgent international action." 

The petition also calls for Guterres to "mobilize a UN comprehensive response to the climate emergency" and name a crisis management team to "oversee immediate and comprehensive global action on climate," according to the report. Human rights lawyer Scott Gilmore noted to The Guardian that doing so could involve creating a "climate tsar" to coordinate United Nations efforts. 

The petition comes after Thunberg blasted the ongoing COP26 climate summit in Glasgow as a "failure" and a "PR event, where leaders are giving beautiful speeches and announcing fancy commitments and targets, while behind the curtains governments of the Global North countries are still refusing to take any drastic climate action." Alexandria Villaseñor, a climate activist who signed this week's petition, told Earther she hopes it sends a "message of urgency" after "we have had 26 COPs that have been failures," adding, "It's young people and youth who are continuously reminding those in power that we need to do something right now, and this petition is an important way to do that." 

According to The Guardian, the United Nations has seen a draft of the climate activists' petition, and declaring a level 3 emergency is "under discussion."