Children to COP26: We will choke on your fossil fuel rollback 

 “I can’t inhale any more smoke into my lungs, it hurts, it smells and it hurts to breath… why are adults like this?”  

Glasgow, 12 November, 2021 - Children have said they are angry, but not surprised at a decision to water down a call for “an accelerated phase-out of coal power and subsidies for fossil fuels” from the COP26 draft agreement.  

A second, softer draft published this morning called for parties to "[accelerate] the phase-out of unabated coal power and of inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels."  

Nomundari, a sixteen -year-old climate activist from Mongolia, said: “Me and my friends expected to be let down by the adults at COP. Our experience is that adults always make rash decisions and always ignore us”.  

“I just told some of my friends about the decision… one said, ‘What did we expect? Let’s prepare ourselves for more air pollution’. Another said, ‘Do they want us to die of some illness? We want to live long, too. I can’t inhale any more smoke into my lungs, it hurts, it smells, and it hurts to breath… why are adults like this?’” 

During a side-session at COP26 on 11 November,  Nomundari explained how she and other children in parts of Mongolia struggle to breath due to poor air quality and, while her government was taking action to improve things, much more needed to be done on fossil fuels globally.  

“I’m angry because how long do we have to keep repeating this and how long will they keep ignoring us? I have asthma because of it and I can’t even do sport and play with my friends because of it. Is ruining our life their goal?” 

World Vision, along with other child-focused agencies, brought children and youth from countries around the globe to COP26 virtually and in person. They shared their thoughts and stories about what damage climate change was already causing in their communities and the terrible cost children and their families were paying because of it.  

Even before this morning’s change, youth advocates from Sierra Leone Tenema and Tejan had already questioned whether leaders were doing enough to address the climate crisis: “We want happy and healthy futures, but that isn’t going to be possible unless leaders address climate change at COP. In the face of extreme heat, drought, and natural disasters, what are politicians doing to ensure we get the futures we deserve?”

Ruth, a youth advocate from Kenya, shared that it was thanks to land restoration approaches like Farmer-Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) that children were eating healthy meals again, and not having to walk miles for water and firewood. She is now a champion of FMNR and encourages other young people to use it to address the impact of climate change.  

They and Nomu are desperate for courageous action at COP26: “Governments must accept the fact that climate change is indeed a serious issue,” she said. “If we do not take immediate action, they will be leading the world close to destruction.” 

ENDS  

Notes to Editors 

World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organisation dedicated to working with children, families and their communities to reach their full potential by tackling the root causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender.  For more information, please visit www.wvi.org or follow us on Twitter @WorldVision