Speech of Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda: Climate Vulnerable Forum High Level Press Event for the Madrid Ambition Drive for Survival (#MAD4survival) 10 December 2019 | 11:00 AM – 11:30 AM Chiloe Room, Hall 10 (Valparaiso), IFEMA Madrid, Spain

December 10, 2019

Let us state the facts plainly, so that no one will misunderstand our collective message.

We live in an upside down world. 

Today, children have stepped forward to lead.

Today, as our world burns, adults expected to act like leaders behave like children. 

When our youth demand action from those with the means to stave off this crisis, the rich and the powerful gaze at their navels, seemingly in love with the illusion they can bring their wealth to the afterlife.

In the meantime, millions suffer with hellish conditions today, built with the tar of fossil fuels powered by fossil capital.

Make no mistake about it. Today we stand together before you — an all-women’s panel — to represent both defiance and hope.

Our very composition reflects our own statement, for by doing so we highlight a truth too many have ignored. Those who have contributed the least to the problem bear the heaviest burden.

And yet.

Within vulnerable nations are people who are even more vulnerable. Let us name them. 

 They are called women. 

Women from the urban and rural poor reeling from the worsening impacts of the climate crisis.

Women rising.

Girls demanding action. 

Women leading the fight to save our place in a future where humans can survive and thrive without imposing irreversible harm on our fragile earth. 

Our oceans are turning sour and dissolving the very frail marine ecosystems on which so many depend on.

Entire forests are going up in flames. 

Where thousands of poor communities struggle daily to get by in land increasingly fallow, global temperatures continue to rise, depriving our precious soil of moisture and nutrients. 

Inaction means we are depriving already hungry children of the very nutrition they urgently require, which is tantamount to depriving them of their future. 

Meantime, the most terrible cyclones rage with even greater fury, decimating entire villages in Asia, the Pacific, the Caribbean, Latin America and Africa. 

World leaders may be numb to the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced. But for our people, climate change is so real it activates ALL our senses.

We can taste climate change: ash in the mouths of children whose homes go up in flames. Faucets that churn out water so salty it is undrinkable.

We can smell climate change: the smoke billowing from burning forests. Across Southeast Asia. Across South America. Across Australia. Across Europe and North America.

We hear the wail of mothers who have lost their family, and children who have lost their parents. 

We hear roofs torn violently away in communities cowering from rampaging gale force winds.

We hear the silence of a father staring at crops slowly wasting away year after year after year.

The sense of touch is triggered by the climate crisis, when our feet collide with the cold tide as the seas reclaim coastal cities like Manila, Shanghai, and Jakarta. 

Our people feel the full brunt, the hammer blow, of extreme weather events that take place today because of emissions we failed to prevent decades ago.

And we stare at entire island nations going under water, entire cultures steadily confronting oblivion. 

Yet we also see entire communities that refuse to play the role of victims.

Communities harnessing the power of sustainable energy and agriculture. 

Communities helping other communities. 

Communities demanding governments for access to services and resources that enable their ability to develop and regenerate, to sustain rather than injure what nature has bequeathed.

We see young people on the streets, angry at the callous lack of leadership.

Young people who refuse to look away. Young people who stare us in the face today and who shout: ENOUGH!

Youth today are angry for reasons we are all aware of.

Young people know what we all know.

We have the scientific, technological and financial means to dramatically reduce the harm besetting the vulnerable today and in the future.

We have the means to fight and prevail over the climate crisis.

We have the means to implement the Paris Agreement and keep temperatures to the prescribed 1.5C threshold. 

Vulnerable countries fought for this temperature limit knowing that 1.5 is no paradise. But we also know that keeping to 1.5 is ENOUGH to allow us to return eventually to a planetary pathway where the climate is stabilized.

We are here to ask everyone to get MAD! 

We are here in Madrid to ask world leaders to act with urgency.

We are here to ask all parties to support the Madrid Ambition Drive for Survival.

We are here to amplify the demands of young people: those who dare to call themselves leaders should deliver far stronger climate action by 2020. Not 2025, not 2021. But by 2020.

Despite incredible challenges, countries like the Philippines, Bangladesh, the Marshall Islands, Costa Rica, and Ethiopia, are doing everything we can to transform our economies.

It is spectacularly difficult, because we are also wrestling with equally important challenges such as poverty alleviation, hunger, the provision of jobs, shelter and good health. 

But we know we must act.

We also know can do far more if only the means of implementing Paris is provided. Because we can only do so much with our limited resources.

So we are here as well in Madrid to demand developed countries to live up to their financial obligations. 

We ask those who insist they are still in to fulfil the entirety of their commitment to the Paris Agreement. Reduce emissions far faster and far earlier, but also deliver your financial commitments. Anything less is not leadership.

I end today with a hand reached out to UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa, the Chilean Presidency of this COP, and the incoming COP presidency of the United Kingdom: Secure for the Climate Vulnerable Forum space for twenty adjacent pavilions in ALL hallways leading to the Glasgow COP plenary halls.

Instead of countries showing off accomplishments and bling, we wish to install a thousand photographic portraits in each pavilion, portraits of our people staring them in the face, so that daily they are asked the loudest question so few are willing to hear:

Where do you stand?

What are you prepared to do?

The portraits will haunt the cowards.

But the portraits shall also inspire all who dare to live up to the expectations of our youth today.