It was with shaking hands that Mitzi Jonelle Tan, 24, stepped in front of cameras and microphones to speak at a protest at the COP 24 in Glasgow. The theme of the day was the damage and loss caused by the climate crisis, something the Filipino activist is used to seeing up close. The country faces about 20 typhoons each year — a quarter of the world’s total.
While holding the cell phone with the speech in one hand and, in the other, a poster that encourages the overthrow of imperialism, she charges the fund promised in 300 by the rich countries. As of 2020, they should dedicate US$ 100 billion (BRL bi) per year to help poor countries transfer technologies and minimize climate risks, but this has not yet been met.
“This is not a fund of solidarity or help that the global North will give to the South. This is a responsibility,” he says. “These are repairs that need to be given, not only to reduce emissions, but also to adapt and to manage the losses and damages we have already experienced”.
À Folha, Mitzi says that she grew up with the impacts of the climate crisis, even without realizing that this was what she was seeing.
“Just being afraid of drowning in my own room is already it’s climate anxiety and trauma that no one should experience. The Philippines, according to the latest Children’s Climate Risk Index, is one of the 24 countries at risk extremely high for the impacts of the climate crisis, especially for children. And nobody should grow up in a world where they are afraid of not having a future.”
This COP marks, for example, the eight years since the passage of super typhoon Haiyan, one of the most devastating on record, which killed more than 7.300 people and displaced another 5 million in their home country.
Criticizing the massive presence of the department ment of Finance and the dearth of climate experts in the official Philippine delegation, Mitzi calls this conference “a whirlwind of lies and ‘greenwashing'”. The term refers to misleading environmental advertising and has been used by figures such as Greta Thunberg to define agreements that look promising but are not actually implemented.
“We have to be very critical when talking about in these agreements, because how will they actually happen? What is the plan for this resource to really reach the original peoples, those who are fighting for the forest?”, asks Txai Suruí, 19, indigenous leader criticized by President Jair Bolsonaro for “attacking Brazil” after speaking at the opening of the COP24.
Daughter of activists and a law student, she believes that there have been advances, such as the record presence of indigenous peoples in the Brazilian delegation and the commitments already made by the countries, such as the agreement for the protection of forests. But that is not enough.
“It is not enough for developed countries to say that they will help indigenous peoples in this fight for climate change and continue to encourage the destruction of the Amazon. Because, at the time of commercial decisions , they do not change and continue to buy meat that comes from inside indigenous land.”
Txai says that there is still a lack of social movements sitting at the negotiating table and participating in decision-making at the conference.
“We will achieve climate justice when we end social inequalities, because we are mainly talking about people. Those who suffer most from the consequences of the climate crisis are the most vulnerable populations, who are generally in the favelas, that are black people, indigenous people. So talking about climate change is, yes, talking about the demarcation of indigenous lands. And Brazil is going against that,” he says, referring to bills that are being processed in the National Congress, such as what institutes the thesis of the time frame for the demarcation of protected areas.
The paiter-suruí struggle resonates with Helena Gualinga,19, which denounces oil exploration in the Ecuadorian Amazon. From the Kichwa Sarayaku people, she agrees on the importance of halting the advance of livestock farming in the forest, but points out that there are other serious problems in the region.
“We tend to forget what the fossil fuel industry is doing. doing for my part of the Amazon. Not just in Ecuador, but in Peru. There’s a lot of oil and mining in the Amazon, and it’s contaminating the forest.”
The extraction of oil in the region brings, between other consequences, pollution, deforestation and leakage risks. In April 2020, for example, the rupture of three pipelines spilled thousand gallons of oil in the Napo and Coca rivers. In addition, obviously, it contributes to the increase in greenhouse gas emissions, aggravating the impacts of global warming that are already appearing there.
“Weather patterns have completely changed. Heat waves and the rains are more intense. We have faced a lot of floods that were not happening in our part of the Amazon. This left my community homeless, without crops for months. One of the biggest floods happened a year ago and there are still houses that could not be rebuilt “, tells.
Helena says she has seen her people suffering for so long that she had no option but to do something to try to change this reality. However, he considers that the presence of indigenous youth at the COP is important not only to draw attention to injustices, but also to propose solutions. “We know how to take care of the forest because we’ve been doing it for a long time”.
Already Marcelo Rocha, 20, he turns his gaze to the outskirts of big cities. Born in Mauá (Greater São Paulo), he started to dedicate himself to environmental activism in view of the problems associated with the future of climate change —lack of water, basic sanitation and housing—, which have long been present in Brazilian slums.
“It was everything we’ve ever lived, I just didn’t know how to name it”, he says. “Everything that the global North fears has already happened to us historically, but we are dehumanized. And, if missing today, where will we be in this future of 2021, 2050?”
For him, racial and climatic guidelines are rooted in the structure of society. “The direct link between racism and climate change is realizing that this process of exploitation of people is also of exploitation of nature. Just as they exploited black people, they also exploit nature.”
Rocha defends a historic repair that takes care of all of this, transforming numbers and documents into advances that do not leave the most vulnerable communities behind. “It is unison among all youth — black, indigenous, urban, rural — how much we need to think about agreements that relate to people’s lives. To think about policies not only from an environmental point of view, but also from a social one”.
Reporter Jessica Maes traveled to Glasgow as part of the 2020 Climate Change Media Partnership, a journalism exchange organized by Internews’ Earth Journalism Network and the Stanley Center for Peace and Security.