Abigail Borah, a Middlebury College student and climate activist from the United States, was ejected from a plenary session at the COP17 climate summit this morning after interrupting introductory remarks by US chief negotiator, Todd Stern.
Her statement, which was met with wide applause from the crowd, read as follows:
“I am speaking on behalf of the United States of America because my negotiators cannot. The obstructionist Congress has shackled justice and delayed ambition for far too long. I am scared for my future. 2020 is too late to wait. We need an urgent path to a fair ambitious and legally binding treaty
You must take responsibility to act now, or you will threaten the lives of youth and the world’s most vulnerable.
You must set aside partisan politics and let science dictate decisions. You must pledge ambitious targets to lower emissions not expectations. Citizens across the world are being held hostage by stillborn negotiations.
We need leaders who will commit to real change, not empty rhetoric. Keep your promises. Keep our hope alive. 2020 is too late to wait.”
[From the NY Times:
Facing sharp criticism from fellow envoys, environmental activists and one impassioned heckler, the chief American negotiator at a climate conference here on Thursday shifted his position — or at least his language — on a timetable for a new set of international talks.
… He firmly denied that the United States was dragging its feet and, somewhat ambiguously, endorsed a proposal from the European Union to quickly start negotiating a new international climate change treaty.
… Mr. Stern smiled as if the applause were for him and then continued with his prepared remarks. ]
SustainUS, where Borah has worked according to her facebook page, released a statement highlighting the urgency of Borah’s message and pushing the US delegation in particular to heed the warnings of climage scientists:
Since before the climate talks, the United States has held off on the necessary emissions reductions targets until the year 2020. Studies from the International Energy Agency, the UNEP, and countless other peer-reviewed scientific papers show that waiting until 2020 to begin aggressive emissions reduction would cause irreversible climate change, including heightened tropical storms, worsening droughts, and devastation affecting communities and businesses from Africa to America. Nevertheless, the United States has held strong to its woefully inadequate and voluntary commitments made in the Copenhagen Accord and Cancun Agreement
The U.S. continues to negotiate on time borrowed from future generations and with every step of inaction, forces young people to solve the quickly exacerbating climate challenges that previous generations have been unable and unwilling to address.
Borah travelled to Durban and gave an earlier address to United Nations negotiators at the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on behalf of the International Youth Climate Movement (IYCM), but it appears that this action was done in her own name, and on behalf of the planet.