Climate change is a children’s rights crisis, according to a petition that 16 children across the globe wrote. A petition is a formal written request about a certain cause. In this case, it asks the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child to hold five countries responsible for not helping to stop climate change.
The Earth is 1.1°C hotter than before factories and machines were introduced during the 1700s and 1800s, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This rise in global temperature is causing heat waves, forest fires, extreme weather patterns, and floods. The kids who created the petition say children are affected by this changing climate the most.
In the North African country of Tunisia, Raslen Jbeili saw a wildfire approach his home. Sometimes his school floods with over four feet of water from storms. In the western Pacific Ocean on the island of Palau, Carlos Manuel saw high tides and severe storms that made people leave their homes. The rising sea level on the island forced a hospital to relocate. In Germany, Raina Ivanova experienced heat waves and heavy rain that caused canals to overflow and flood the capital city of Hamburg.
Adults didn’t have to face these problems in their childhoods because they didn’t have to think about the consequences of climate change, Ivanova said.
The petition to the United Nations is one way these young people are asking adults to take climate change seriously. It focuses on five countries: Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany and Turkey. Each one signed a treaty, or an agreement, that protects the rights of children. However, the petitioners claim that those countries have not kept their promise to protect children from the climate crisis.
The petitioners hope the countries named in the petition will change their laws to help protect the earth and its climate, instead of continuing to harm it. But to do that, they say, everyone has to work together.
“We need to make a change,” said petitioner Chiara Sacchi, who is from Argentina, a country in South America. “We cannot consider the world as we do now – there are no walls with climate change. We are here, we are all together.”
Here’s what six petitioners had to say:
“If I have kids, I want them to live like I did — to hunt, fish, gather. I want to teach them but I’m scared because there might not be any more subsistence. There will be less fish and there won’t be any more ice in the winter.”
-Carl Smith (Akiak, Alaska, USA)
“(World leaders) need to respect the limits of planet earth. They need to understand they cannot detract all the natural resources and pollute the atmosphere because other people and living things need to continue living in the future. It is our future and world leaders should hear us.”
-Catarina Lorenzo (Salvador, Brazil)
“There will be climate refugees everywhere in Europe and the U.S. There will be tension and pollution and the geography will be completely changed. There are islands that are going to disappear and countries like the Netherlands that will disappear.”
-Iris Duquesne (Bordeaux, France)
“I will tell our world leaders to pay attention to the cries of their citizens about the effects of this climate change such as flooding, housing problems, food scarcity, traffic congestion due to flooding and blocked drains due to plastic pollution and the outbreak of diseases such as malaria.”
-Deborah Adegbile (Lagos, Nigeria)
“People in India are not making the environment a priority. We are destroying all our resources — wasting water and polluting our air so badly. It is not a problem which any country can solve on its own. All the countries must join their hands together to solve this crisis.”
-Ridhima Pandey (Haridwar, India)
“It’s the parts where I see sea level rise that I worry about — mostly the lagoon side, where I’m from. I don’t want to be underwater. I want future generations to experience what I experience. I want them to experience living on Ebeye.”
-Ranton Ajain (Ebeye, Marshall Islands)
ABOUT THE WRITER
Hope Kahn is an iGeneration Youth reporter living in College Park, Md. Read more stories at igenerationyouth.com.
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