As young people, we urge financial institutions to stop financing fossil fuels

Comment: Development banks supporting dirty projects are exacerbating climate chaos. This year needs to be a turning point to a just and sustainable future

Villagers in Dhemaji, Assam, India, were hit by repeated flooding in September. (Photo: Indian Red Cross Society/Flickr)


On behalf of a generation of young climate and environmental activists, we urge all public financial institutions gathered virtually at the Finance in Common Summit this week to set a deadline to stop using people’s money to finance fossil fuels. 

On behalf of those who already bear the biggest costs of climate breakdown right now and will do for years to come, we demand world leaders protect our environment from all forms of pollution and exploitation. 

They must ensure we breathe clean air and drink clean water and uphold our right to a healthy environment as we continue to fight for climate justice.

We refuse the presence of multinational companies that exploit our natural resources and bring no benefit to our communities in the Philippines, India, Colombia, Argentina, across the African continent and beyond. 

We refuse to silently watch as corporations prioritise temporary economic wealth over the future of the planet and the well-being of billions of people.

While our nations focus on the economic recovery to Covid-19, we must ensure that environmental and social criteria are not left behind.

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First, countries of the global North need to understand that they are the most responsible for the climate crisis, which is also a social crisis a cruel one which will hit the most vulnerable people in the global South the hardest. 

It is time to change the narrative and put the focus on those most affected people and areas (Mapa). 

It is high time that the global North unconditionally pays reparations to the most affected people for the historic injustices we have suffered. Those least affected by the climate crisis are often those who have contributed to it the most and have fueled climate denialism throughout history.

To prevent the climate crisis from becoming the worst catastrophe in the history of the planet, we must make a complete transition to sustainable and egalitarian economic systems, with energy grids based on renewable sources and the preservation of nature and ecosystems at their core. This is not an option.

Public financial institutions and development banks that help finance fossil fuel projects are a double insult to people. Instead of paving the way towards the sustainable future we all need, they are exacerbating climate chaos and creating more illegitimate debt that our generations will have to pay for with our lives. 

We are fed up with having to pay for their deliberate greed. 

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Typhoon Goni, the strongest typhoon on the planet this year, affected hundreds of thousands of people in the Philippines, leaving many homeless, hungry, and cold. The flooding in Bihar, India displaced seven million people. 

While having to cope with a pandemic, 783 million people in Africa and 76 million people in India don’t have access to safe water supply. And most recently, hurricane Eta has brought devastation upon Central America. 

Our demands for social and environmental justice must be heard. 

We have been threatened by anti-democratic regimes, but we refuse to let the oppressors win. We need people-centered climate action. We need to put people over profit. We are rising to say never again to financial and ecological terrorism from governments, corporations or international finance organisations. 

And we will not stop until we win a more sustainable future for our generation and the next.

This year needs to be a turning point. We must use the response to this pandemic to transition to a just and sustainable future. This must include debt cancellation for the poorest nations, an immediate end to fossil fuel subsidies and investments and locally-adapted green recovery measures.

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Until the current exploitative and hyper-extractive system is changed, we will keep fighting for climate justice, for our lives and for those that have been taken away.

Firm commitments from public financial institutions at the Finance in Common Summit this week are critical to manage the transition risks to a low-carbon economy and to unleash private investments towards the clean energy future we all want.

To the ones controlling our money, we say: if you don’t want to do what is just, then do what is necessary. We are not fighting for the planet, we are fighting for our lives. World leaders, take us seriously: we need climate justice today, not tomorrow. 

Help us build our future. Do not destroy it. We are counting on you.

Mitzi Jonelle Tan — Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines

Disha A Ravi — Fridays For Future India

Laura Veronica Muñoz — Fridays For future Colombia

Eyal Weintraub — Jóvenes Por El Clima Argentina

Nicole Becker — Jóvenes por El Clima Argentina

Kevin Mtai — Africa Continental Coordinator Earth Uprising

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