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Greta Thunberg

Youth climate activists including Swedish teen Greta Thunberg (center) gather for a demonstration in Festival Park in Glasgow, Scotland on November 1, 2021, the first full day of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26. (Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)

Letter Accusing World Leaders of Climate 'Betrayal' Signed by 1 Million People—And Growing

"There is still time to avoid the worst consequences if we are prepared to change. It will take determined, visionary leadership. And it will take immense courage—but know that when you rise, billions will be right behind you."

Brett Wilkins

As activists gathered Monday outside the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland to protest world leaders' collective failure to address the worsening planetary emergency, a petition led by four young women at the center of the fight for climate action quickly gathered over a million signatures.

"This is not a drill. It's code red for the Earth."

The open letter—led by Sweden's Greta Thunberg, Dominika Lasota of Poland, Ugandan Vanessa Nakate, and Mitzi Tan of the Philippines—called world governments' climate failures a "betrayal." As of Monday afternoon, more than 1.2 million people around the world had signed the urgent call to action.

"We are catastrophically far from the crucial goal of 1.5°C, and yet governments everywhere are still accelerating the crisis, spending billions on fossil fuels," the letter states, referring to the Paris climate agreement's preferred goal for temperature rise this century.

"This is not a drill. It's code red for the Earth," the petition continues. "Millions will suffer as our planet is devastated—a terrifying future that will be created, or avoided, by the decisions you make. You have the power to decide."

"As citizens across the planet, we urge you to face up to the climate emergency," the activists implore. "Not next year. Not next month. Now."

The letter demands that world leaders take the following immediate actions to address the climate emergency:

  • Keep the precious goal of 1.5°C alive with immediate, drastic, annual emission reductions unlike anything the world has ever seen;
  • End all fossil fuel investments, subsidies, and new projects immediately, and stop new exploration and extraction;
  • End creative carbon accounting by publishing total emissions for all consumption indices, supply chains, international aviation and shipping, and the burning of biomass;
  • Deliver the $100 billion promised to the most vulnerable countries, with additional funds for climate disasters; and
  • Enact climate policies that protect workers and the most vulnerable, and reduce all forms of inequality.

"We can still do this," the letter's authors insist. "There is still time to avoid the worst consequences if we are prepared to change. It will take determined, visionary leadership. And it will take immense courage—but know that when you rise, billions will be right behind you."

Addressing governments' inadequate response to the planetary emergency, Thunberg—who was not invited to speak at the conference—told a crowd outside the Glasgow summit on Monday: "We say, no more 'blah, blah, blah.' No more exploitation of people and nature and the planet."

"No more whatever the fuck they're doing inside there," Thunberg added, drawing uproarious applause. "We're sick and tired of it, and we're gonna make the change, whether they like it or not."

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