“We are in a deep climate hole. To get out, we must first stop digging,” he said. “Is it common sense to build ever more coal plants that are choking our future? Is it common sense to reward pollution that kills millions with dirty air and makes it dangerous for people in cities around the world to sometimes even venture out of their homes?”
The speeches inside the green-marbled General Assembly hall on Monday stood in sharp contrast to the anger that spilled onto the streets Friday, when masses of children and young people protested around the world. On Monday, protesters blocked traffic in Washington to demand a swift pivot away from the world’s fossil fuel-based economy. More youth protests are planned for later in the week.
Laurence Tubiana, a former climate negotiator from France, said she was struck by the fact that several leaders said they heard the message from young people in the streets. “Everyone said, ‘We hear you,’” she said. “But they are tone deaf.”
Studies show that if emissions continue to rise at their current pace, the number of people needing humanitarian aid as a result of natural disasters could double by 2050. And a sweeping report from 13 United States federal agencies last year warned that failing to rein in warming could shave 10 percent off the country’s economy by century’s end.