Children’s voices miss out from climate talks

As talks for a fair and legally binding climate deal at the United Nations Conference on climate change in the COP 17 continue in South Africa, children’s issues are not seeming to be on the agenda, while children want more action from leaders to promote better climate policies and frameworks to benefit their well-being.

Some 18 students from Kingdom Heritage Academy in Kwazulu Natal interviewed at premises of the King Albert Luthuli international conference centre where the climate talks are taking place expressed sadness over refusal of the UN security personnel to allow them to enter the main venue for negotiations which was blamed on accreditation problems.

Mzukisi Msongela, a 11 year old school pupil said that climate change was affecting the livelihood of children which further disempowers during times of extreme weather events such as floods and drought. Furthermore he added that climate change was a child right violation as children are normally prevented to enjoy life and full potential.

Environmental activists demonstrate outside the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties meeting (COP17) in Durban, South Africa. Photo: Reuters

Another 15 year old pupil, Anathi Ncayiyana observed that rich nations need to show commitment to reduce carbon emissions which are causing global warming while lives of children who are part of the future generations are being destroyed by extreme weather events such as floods.

The South African government also expressed the importance of empowering children to take part in events on climate change. Deputy director general in the Ministry of gender, children and persons with disabilities, Mzolisi Toni cited floods which caused havoc to children’s lives in 1995 in Kwazulu Natal as one example of how climate change had negatively impacted on the lives of children in the country.

He also added that children who are the future generation need to have their voices heard in the COP 17 talks as the effects brought by climate change will surely affect children in the many years to come ahead.

Christian Aid, an ecumenical body working in 140 countries also taking part at COP 17 has strongly called for the need for industrialized countries to accept their responsibility to cut down carbon emissions drastically.

It also appeals to rich nations to support poor countries with financing and renewable technologies to mitigate the effects of climate change which is one way of contributing to sustainable development across the globe.

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