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Young climate activist urges world leaders to take action on climate change

Young climate activist urges world leaders to take action on climate change

Posted April. 24, 2021 07:13,   

Updated April. 24, 2021 07:13


Xiye Bastida, Mexican-Indigenous climate justice advocate and co-founder of Re-Earth Initiative, has drawn international attention at the Leaders Summit on Climate held by U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday (local time) by urging 40 world leaders to take immediate action, saying “the era of fossil fuels is over.” She is a leader of the Fridays for Future youth climate strike movement, whose member includes Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg. Bastida is expected to follow the footsteps of Thunberg, who rose to fame after her speech at the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit.

Bastida, who was introduced by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the summit, urged the leaders of major countries to come up with immediate action to tackle climate change and climate injustice and argued that climate justice equals social justice. “We need to accept that the era of fossil fuels if over,” Bastida told world leaders. She called for a just transition to renewables worldwide and demanded that the leaders stop fossil fuel investments and subsidies, and any new fossil fuel infrastructure, including pipelines. Bastida also told world leaders that they should achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

Bastida also pointed out that rich countries should take in “climate migrants,” who had to leave their home due to food and water shortages caused by climate change. The 19-year-old girl argued that the current economic and political systems “rely on the existence of sacrifice zones that target the global South and Black and brown communities to the global North” and urged world leaders to tackle the climate injustice suffered by island nations, Arctic communities, and people in Africa and the Amazon. “You will often tell us again and again that we are being unrealistic and unreasonable, but who is being unrealistic and unreasonable with unambitious, non-bold, so-called solutions?,” Bastida said.

Bastida was born in 2002 in Mexico. She is of Aztec descent on her father’s side and Chilean and European descent on her mother’s. Her parents are also environmentalists. She relocated to New York at the age of 13 after years of drought in her hometown and has since spearheaded environmental movements. In 2019, she led her high school in the first major climate strike in New York City, calling for action on climate change. She began her studies at the University of Pennsylvania last year.

“How long do you honestly believe that people in power like you will get away with it (climate crisis)?,” said Greta Thunberg, testifying before the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday. “You still have time to do the right thing and to save your legacies,” Thunberg said. “We, the young people, are the ones who are going to write about you in the history books.”

Eun-Taek Lee nabi@donga.com