Global leaders failing to take climate action

Date: 21 January 2020

In the past weeks we have all witnessed a climate tragedy as Australia struggled to cope with the effects of the most intense fires in the country’s history. Entire species have become extinct in a matter of weeks and entire ecosystems were destroyed. Thousands of people were displaced. Houses and communities are ravaged and a whole country is under dense smoke. In times of such difficulties we stand in solidarity with the Australian people and look up to our leaders and communities for action to mitigate and address this situation.

The issue extends much further than Australia, however. Just recently we all watched in horror as the Amazon was burning, floods affected West African countries and France, and many more critical climate events took place around the world at an unprecedented scale, putting at risk or destroying critical natural ecosystems and displacing thousands of people. And because the media does not offer as much coverage in developing countries about many such events, we rarely hear and see the full global picture.

Unfortunately, most political action was late or indecisive. Sometimes climate change was denied entirely as a cause (or even worse, governmental policies led to those climate events occurring in the first place or at the very least, exacerbated). Climate change has no borders and it ultimately affects everyone, which is why global action and collaboration is needed more than ever.

Last year we saw young people rise and march all over the world, calling for immediate action on climate change. This has sparked a movement spanning ages, nationalities, and beliefs in solidarity with generations to come. As stewards of this planet, we are all worried that our communities will be fundamentally changed by the effects of our ever-increasing carbon and methane emissions, currently on a path that will double the global temperature from the target set out in the Paris Agreement. It is time for business and political leaders to listen more to these concerns and put in place inclusive green policies that ensure both sustainability and social cohesion.

A few weeks ago, the world yet again looked with hope to the United Nations COP25 meeting on Climate Change in Madrid. Sadly, it only proved to be a disappointment. While initially supposed to offer more concrete action towards the implementation of the Paris Agreement on reducing the global carbon emissions and limit irreversible climate change, the negotiations failed to reach meaningful results. Additionally, while required, changing the venue from Chile to Madrid limited civil society access to make their voices heard, especially among the indigenous communities who didn’t get the chance to show how climate change affects their countries.

Unfortunately, COP25 and recent climate emergencies proved that world leaders are not listening. World YMCA expresses its utmost disappointment on the severe lack of commitment towards tackling climate change showed by our world leaders, in the face of growing concern among the population worldwide and especially among young people. Indeed, it’s not just a concern, but a real emergency for our common planet and we have to start treating it as such.

World YMCA invites all decision-makers to reconsider their position, listen to science and the voices of millions who are very clearly expressing their concerns, and increase their ambition in implementing the pledges that they have already made by signing the Paris Agreement.

Further Action: Heeding to the call of young people worldwide, World YMCA will continue to amplify the voices of young people and will strengthen our partnerships with other key stakeholders to address climate issues. As World YMCA has been represented at the UN climate negotiations since 2014 and has in the past five years called for increased ambition from the international community, we will continue to do so, and we are looking forward to the Glasgow COP26. World YMCA is represented at the COP by the young people from the Resource Group on Environment, a global advocacy group of our Movement.

Read more about YMCA’s Resource Group on Environment