As world leaders and government negotiators gather in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt for the biggest climate change conference of the year, protestors from Nottingham Coalition for Climate Justice gathered in Trinity Square to demand stronger action to restore our environment and reduce emissions. One speech, from fifteen-year-old Liv Marshal of Nottingham Youth Climate Assembly, stood out from the crowd, and even made a few headlines. Here's that speech in full...
I’m fifteen years old. In my lifetime, there have been fifteen COPs. Fifteen times world leaders have sat down and said, “Okay, let's fix this.”
When I was one, scientists discovered that even if we stopped all CO2 emissions in that very moment, the global temperature would remain elevated for a milenia. When I was four, the Fukushima disaster ended hopes for a nuclear power renaissance. When I was eight, the Paris Agreement was signed, and when I was nine, Donald Trump took the United States out of the agreement for four crucial years. When I was eleven, the IPCC reported that a sharp decline in emissions is needed by 2030 to keep to 1.5C. When I was fourteen, the CO2 levels in the atmosphere hit 418 parts per million, the highest level in millions of years.
Ever since I was born, I’ve been failed. I’ve been failed by the presidents and prime ministers who swore to change, I’ve been failed by endless summits and I’ve been failed by empty promises.
But I refuse to let my future be destroyed by those in power who simply don’t care. I thought we could trust them. I thought they had it sorted. Yet year in, and year out, they have proved themselves incompetent, and I am sick of seeing daily disasters whilst ministers party and sit back. Those in the Global South can’t sit back. Those losing their livelihoods, their homes, they’re families can’t sit back.
Many seem to think that the UK isn’t affected by the climate crisis, and those people take their seats in government offices and do nothing. They all seem to be fans of cuts, unless it’s cuts in emissions, which continue to be brushed under the rug. This crisis is not something far away anymore, it’s on our doorstep. With record temperatures in the summer and droughts covering the country, it’s clear that we are not safe from disaster, and so what can we do?
Well, we don’t really have many options; we must find unity. Separated, we are powerless, we will make no change, and we will continue to go down this path made by our ancestors. We must work together and take what we want to the policymakers ourselves because they will not come to us. They will not hear silent cries from miles away. But they will hear us if we make our voices heard, together.
I shouldn’t have to spend my teenage years fighting for a future
I am angry, of course I am angry. But those in power don’t want anger. They want what they don’t expect; answers. They don’t want to do the work, so let's do it for them. The Nottingham Youth Climate Assembly have created our manifesto, with four key pillars, created by young people to turn this city into a city we want to live in.
The next step: take it to those who can make change.
Countless emails have been sent and meetings held, and we are nowhere near finished, but it’s progress. They’re listening, and not just through courtesy messages of appreciation, but through conversations and contact. Whilst we don’t have forever to talk, we must use the time we do have effectively and make our MPs and Councillors earn their high salaries. We will not give up. We will be persistent until we reach Net Zero, until 1.5C is guaranteed and until climate justice is served to those who have been left in the dark for decades.
I shouldn’t have to spend my teenage years fighting for a future that I thought I had, but if that is what it takes then what other choice do I have? Every month there is another story of a catastrophe, another scientist warning us of what is to come, another debate of net zero.
But within this, there are stories of hope. There are people out there making changes, pressuring governments and talking to leaders. These tasks aren’t easy, I have to teach myself about basic concepts about climate change that I was never taught in school, whilst preparing for GCSEs that will be useless in the world of climate chaos I am being thrown into. A certificate won’t save me from a flood, but courses on green jobs might prevent that flood to begin with.
And so today I stand before you and urge you to take action. I urge you to research, I urge you to join a campaign and do what those in power aren’t doing. Be innovative, find ways you can make your workplace or school more sustainable, be creative and discover new ways of living your life.
Climate change will affect us all, so climate activism is for all. Be persistent, email your MP and make it known that you will not stop until people like me, your children and grandchildren have a world to grow up in. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life surviving in uncertainty, I want to live and I want to thrive. You’ve already had your chance, so why can’t we have a try?
Join the Nottingham Coalition for Climate Justice Facebook group and find out more about Nottingham Climate Assembly
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