PARIS: The COVID-19 pandemic offered young climate activists from Africa, Asia and South America a unique opportunity to connect online with their counterparts in the West and have their voices heard.
But now many are worried the pandemic may keep them from attending crucial climate talks in Glasgow, where they hope to push world leaders on issues facing poor countries on the frontlines of climate change.
Flooding, fires and extreme heat are just a few of the climate-change induced catastrophes that experts say will more adversely affect communities in lower-income countries as the planet steadily heats up.
Activists from those countries fear that without their presence, their voices will be ignored at the upcoming COP26 summit opening on Oct 31.
“We’re only going to be left behind again,” said Mitzi Jonelle Tan, a climate activist in the Philippines.
“We need leaders to hear our stories, they don’t know what it’s like to be afraid for your life because of floods,” the 23-year-old told AFP from Marikina city, regularly hit by typhoons made more powerful by rising seas.
Tan is one of several climate activists AFP has been following in the lead-up to COP26, billed as humanity’s last chance to avoid catastrophic global warming.
She will be going to COP26, but many will be not, hampered by a lack of access to vaccines, travel restrictions and limited funding.
Like hordes of other activists from the so-called global south – less industrialised, lower-income nations – Tan has linked up with Greta Thunberg’s Fridays For Future movement that has inspired massive street protests around the world.