COP28 "Act in unison to protect the children of the world" 8-year old Indian-origin sustainability advocate urges world leaders

Phasing out fossil fuels is urgently needed to protect children's rights for survival, said Moksha Roy

With over 200 world leaders struggling to come to a consensus at COP28 in Dubai on fossil fuel phase out, UN Secretary-General António Guterres urged for a deal and said: “now is the time for maximum ambition and maximum flexibility. Ministers and negotiators must move beyond arbitrary red lines, entrenched positions and blocking tactics.”

Moksha Roy, an eight year old Indian-origin sustainability advocate from the UK, one of the youngest COP28 attendees, is urging world leaders to act in unison to safeguard the future of the children of the world and said: "Leaders of nations who are not agreeing to phase-out fossil fuels are being unjust to all children. Failing to commit on phasing out fossil fuels is a violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. If we don't phase out fossil fuels urgently, children, especially from the Global South will be deprived of their basic rights to live and thrive in a safe and secure environment."

It has been stressed already that the Global South's dependency on fossil fuels is unjust, but is no comparison to the inaction, and lack of funds or technology offered by the Global North to the Global South to go green. The small island nations are on the brink of extinction. The inaction of the giant global corporations and oil-producing counties is nothing more than a death sentence to the people of these countries and is an act of utmost disregard for the rights of children in the Global South.

Commenting on COP28 negotiations, UN climate chief Simon Stiell reminded everyone that the world is watching and said: “There is nowhere to hide. One thing is for certain: ‘I win – you lose’ is a recipe for collective failure. Ultimately it is 8 billion people’s security that is at stake.”

Echoing the UN leaders and adding to the voices of the children and youth attending COP28, Moksha said: “I urge the leaders of the Global North to go beyond and above their own interests to help the Global South. Not because they care about the Global South, but to protect the children of their own countries who will face the impacts of their inactions, no matter where they live on this planet. As a child growing up in the Global North, I do not want to inherit a fractured and devastated world - with no proper shelter, water shortage, food insecurity and zero peace or justice."

According to Save the Children, over 2.4 billion children around the world are bearing the brunt of the climate crisis that is taking lives, depriving children of their rights and threatening their future. Hence, the need for urgent action is like never before.

8-year-old Moksha Roy who holds the distinction of being the world's youngest sustainability advocate, having started at age 3, represents the children of the UK and Global North. She is a member of the UNFCCC's YOUNGO, and campaigns for children's climate rights by supporting UNICEF's rights respecting schools initiative and Outright 2023-24. In 2022, Moksha's message to world leaders at COP27 to become “truly, really, super selfish to save the planet” was passed on to the COP27 Presidency by the UK Government, to be shared with world leaders.

Having interacted with leaders and organisations at COP28, Moksha emphasised that more representation is needed from children of the Global North at COPs to ensure that they are aware of the hard realities faced by their counterparts in the Global South. Moksha stressed, "When children from the developed countries are included in climate conversations they will become leaders and ambassadors of positive change, tomorrow. Maybe, only then we will have a fair and equal world with fewer divisions amongst its leaders."

About Moksha Roy

Moksha started advocating against microplastic pollution at 3; supported by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the UN task force members. At age 5, she wrote letters to all 193 world leaders, urging them to introduce the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into their national curriculums, to ensure children can learn about the SDGs and then act on major global issues ranging from climate change, gender inequality to plastic pollution. World leaders replied back commending her and promised to implement her request. The UK government commended her for the timely request, and included it in the Department for Education’s Sustainability and Climate Change strategy, that has now been rolled out to over 16 million children and young people in the UK. She has won multiple awards for her advocacy and was honoured with the Points of Light Award by the British Prime Minister Mr Rishi Sunak in July 2023. She met the UK PM, Mr. Sunak at 10 Downing Street just before he departed for COP28 and discussed her plans for COP to ensure they both have a fruitful summit.

About COP28

Over 80,000 delegates from 198 countries including 140 heads of state and government are attending this year's climate conference in Dubai. The conference is an opportunity for countries to identify and deliver concrete global solutions for limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees. COP28 aims to coordinate a robust response to the Global Stocktake, the process called for in the 2015 Paris Agreement in which each party assesses the progress it has made toward its emissions reduction and adaptation goals, to meet the scale and urgency of the climate crisis. As 2023 sets to be hottest year on record, UN Environment Programme (UNEP) reports that current pledges under the Paris Agreement put the world on track for a 2.5-2.9°C temperature rise above pre-industrial levels this century, pointing to the urgent need for increased climate action now, more than ever.

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