World leaders gathered in Madrid are negotiating ways to tackle the climate crisis.
The climate emergency is already causing deaths today Greta Thunberg warned at the 2019 United Nations Climate Change Summit Monday.
The Swedish teenage climate activist addressed a press conference at the COP25 summit in Madrid as part of a panel of youth speakers representing communities from around the world.
“The climate emergency is not just something that will impact us in the future, it is not something that will have an impact on children living today when they grow up,” said Thunberg, adding that "it is already affecting countless people today, people are suffering and dying from it today.”
Thunberg, who traveled to Spain across the Atlantic on a yacht when the summit was moved to Madrid from Chile at short notice due to civil unrest, said she would use the media attention surrounding her to boost other people’s causes.
At the youth debate in the Spanish capital, several people from Indigenous backgrounds or from countries in the Global South taking the immediate brunt of the climate crisis gathered to give personal accounts of how the climate crisis is already affecting their lives.
Carlon Zackhras, representing the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean, said rising sea levels could wipe out his community altogether.
“My home is only two meters above water; with the threats of climate change, we would lose two meters of our culture.”
Signatories of the Paris Agreement on climate change signed in 2015 pledged to limit global warming to 1.5C-2C above preindustrial levels.
A recent report from the UN Environmental Programme said measures currently being taken would fall short of this target and would have to be boosted five-fold to prevent catastrophic climate impacts in the future.
Days before COP25, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres referred to the world's efforts to stop climate change so far as “utterly inadequate.”
“The point of no return is no longer over the horizon,” Guterres said, adding that "it's in sight and hurtling toward us.”
The U.N. chief recalled the devastating effects of man-made emissions of greenhouse gases including record temperatures and melting polar ice are already affecting the planet and having dramatic consequences on humans and other species.