“Your Governments Have Failed You”: Syrian-American Student Munira Sibai Calls For Climate Justice


(United Nations COP18, Doha, Qatar, 2012 December 7)
(speaking in Arabic, translated by Democracy Now)

I stand before you, given two minutes to make the same call of action that has fallen upon deaf ears for too long. Over the past two weeks, we have seen not only complete absence of vision, but also an active effort by some to move backwards. Those who have caused the climate crisis already accepted the responsibility to solve it two decades ago. Today, after 18 years of inaction, the same countries are backing away from that obligation. The foundational principle of equity is under attack. Serious discussions of cutting emissions have been sidelined. Instead, you focus on carbon markets, gambling with our futures, throwing lives like poker chips. As you sit here applauding yourselves, the Philippines is being ravaged by the 16th extreme weather event this year. Haiti, Cuba and the U.S. are still counting losses from Hurricane Sandy. The adaptation fund, necessary because of years of inaction, is in grave danger. You, the developed world, must put forward the carbon cuts we need and the money you pledged. You are well on your way to leaving a legacy of global devastation. We’ve been telling you this for years.

So let me now speak beyond the negotiators in this room to the people who I represent. Your governments are failing you. They are afraid that offering visionary pathways to low-carbon economies will make them look foolish, that taking responsibility will make them look weak, that standing up to the money and power of polluters will cost them political support. Unchecked, this cowardice will cost lives. Here in the halls of the United Nations, the voices of global citizens are limited, regulated and relegated to these short, symbolic statements. Outside these walls, these walls, there is a global movement, growing up from the grassroots, calling for climate justice. Join us.