The Current

Youth call for 'bold and immediate action' ahead of UN climate change meeting

Shakti Ramkumar of Vancouver is tired of hearing her words on climate change are inspiring, without seeing any action. She’s part of the Youth4climate meeting happening in Milan, Italy. 

Shakti Ramkumar says she’s tired of hearing her words are inspiring and instead she wants action

Child activists join a march through Westminster during a 'climate strike' demonstration, part of the global 'Fridays for Future' movement led by Swedish teenage environmentalist Greta Thunberg, in London, Friday, Sept. 24, 2021. (David Cliff/The Associated Press)

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Shakti Ramkumar is tired of hearing that her words on climate change are inspiring, without seeing any action. She's part of the Youth4climate meeting happening in Milan, Italy. 

"We want to see bold and immediate action, but we've been hearing a lot of the same thing," Ramkumar told Matt Galloway on The Current.

"You know, 'you're so inspiring. Thank you so much for doing this'. But we need to see action behind those words."

Ramkumar of Vancouver is at the event with around 400 delegates from around the world. It's happening a month ahead of the UN Climate Conference, COP26, in Glasgow, Scotland.

The meeting is an opportunity for young people to get together and help set the agenda for that upcoming climate conference.

Ramkumar said the problem she sees is that leaders are making vague targets, 20 to 30 years from now.  But she says, that isn't what they're asking for. 

People wear masks and carry signs as they march in Ottawa for stronger action against climate change Sept. 24, 2021. (Hugo Belanger/Radio-Canada)

"We need to see immediate short term action from world leaders and drastic emissions reductions and guaranteed commitments towards equity," said Ramkumar. 

On home soil, Ramkumar would like to see Canada make bolder commitments toward reducing emissions. 

"We have not met any of the targets we've set previously and we really can't afford to do that any longer. I would like to see us set bold targets that are aligned with the scale of the crisis and actually meeting those targets," said Ramkumar. 

Positive movement

Ramkumar said the fact that this event is happening is encouraging. At the meeting, young people have been able to compile a list of what they want to see, and start setting the agenda for the climate conference in Scotland. 

She says the calls they're making are realistic, and aligned with the science. 

"I'm really finding hope from my fellow youth delegates," said Ramkumar.

"I really feel hopeful that young people are not settling for half measures and compromise solutions, that young people are being bold and clear in our values and are seeing the big picture on climate change."

But Ramkumar says it's frustrating that more progress hasn't been made, as she says the solutions are already there. 

"What really keeps me up at night is that most of the solutions we need to tackle the climate crisis," said Ramkumar.

"We already have them. When it comes to energy, things like demand side reduction, energy efficiency, investing in these low cost, low tech solutions can take us most of the way there to emissions reductions."


Written by Philip Drost. Produced by Kate Cornick.

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