With COP26 winding down, Greta Thunberg is leading a group of youth climate activists in pushing the UN to declare “a systemwide climate emergency.” The group of 14 teens is drawing comparison to the UN’s coordinated response to the coronavirus pandemic, and by filing a legal petition with the UN secretary-general, they are hoping that the climate crisis will get the same attention.
It’s the next step for these activists after their case declaring that countries perpetuating climate change were violating their human rights was
By calling on UN secretary-general António Guterres to declare climate change a global level 3 emergency—the highest possible—they’ll force his hand. An emergency declaration of this magnitude, which was used for COVD-19, would set in motion resources and technical expertise. Importantly, these resources would go to the most at-risk countries facing global heating. These countries often include developing countries and small islands.
“The countries that emit the least face the greatest risks,” the petition
The group wants the UN to start dealing with the crisis as a global matter not dependent on borders rather than leaving it for individual countries to grapple with. To that end, the petition also calls for the creation of a crisis management team to oversee prompt action on the climate by the global community.
“I hope the petition sends a message of urgency,”
It’s believed that the UN has already viewed a draft of the petition and that the level 3 emergency is under discussion, but thus far the secretary-general’s office has declined to comment publicly.
“The secretary-general has really taken the lead over the past few years on pushing states to declare national climate emergencies,”
As the petition is presented, the world will be watching to see how the UN reacts. With the future of our youths—and our planet—in the balance, it will be interesting to see if, and when, they feel the time is right to act.