2019 September 21

Dear António Guterres,

We are writing to you on behalf of Extinction Rebellion’s International Youth Group, a passionate voice of the young generation. We are aware of the devastating reality of climate change and implore you to act on our concerns. This letter is asking you to bring forward our demands to tackle the climate crisis, on your meeting on the 23rd of September. 

Our demands are as follows: for the UN to publicly declare a Climate and Ecological Emergency, to ensure worldwide commitment to carbon neutrality by 2025 and to encourage the global creation of Citizens Assemblies to make decisions for our future.

You stated that the UN has an “Obligation to assume global leadership”, concerning the climate crisis. Indeed throughout the decades, the UN has been a leading voice, facilitating worldwide coordination, with the Kyoto Protocol, and the Paris Agreement. We are thankful that your advocacy has given prominence to the issue, but ahead of the climate summit on the 23rd of September we, the youth, demand action not words. 

Extinction Rebellion Youth has coordinated internationally and will come together in solidarity on the 21st of September, to demand that our voices are heard. The Youth Climate Summit in New York must not just serve as a platform for youth voices but it must commit to real change for which the UN will be held accountable. The Climate Crisis is an issue in which young people cannot afford to be marginalized. Our concerns must extend beyond a one day summit, and be an integral part of future decision making. The decisions made at the summit will have repercussions that will transcend generations. 

Progress has been made, but the targets of the Paris Agreement are still precariously out of reach. Four countries have declared a climate emergency, but the international community is still not acting as though our house is on fire!

The UN commissioned IPCC report is emphatic, that “Far-reaching and unprecedented changes” will be required “in all aspects of society” to limit global warming to 1.5°C. Even this report is considered to be wildly optimistic, making it all the more alarming that we have not met its targets.

If we fail to meet this target globally, ignoring the unequivocal scientific evidence, then the UN will have reneged on the outlines of its charter to “maintain international peace and security”. Societal collapse and multi breadbasket failure will herald the sixth great mass extinction. This is already a reality for many in the global south and beyond.

To be complicit in such gross inaction is to ignore the collective responsibility that the UN has to humanity.

We are terrified of what the future holds and implore you to recognize this. We want to change the narrative. There are alternatives, and we must embrace them. Your decisions will define our future on the 23rd of September. 

Please bring forward our demands: tell the truth and act now.

Love and rage,

XR Youth International

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