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From the streets to the summit: young climate leaders mobilize at UN

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By Agence France-Presse

A day after youth-led global climate strikes, several hundred young activists including Greta Thunberg gathered for a climate summit at the United Nations on Saturday, chiding older generations for doing too little to curb carbon emissions.

Kathleen Ma, 23, criticized Microsoft over a cloud computing deal it has signed with Chevron and Schulmberger (UNITED NATIONS/AFP / HO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Kathleen Ma, 23, criticized Microsoft over a cloud computing deal it has signed with Chevron and Schulmberger (UNITED NATIONS/AFP / HO / MANILA BULLETIN)

The UN has invited 500 young activists and entrepreneurs to take part in the New York meeting, the first of its kind, though some were unable to attend after being denied US visas, a point raised by the organizers.

It comes days before a climate action summit which UN chief Antonio Guterres has called to seek greater commitments from world leaders on reducing their greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris accord to avert runaway global warming.

The tone for Saturday’s event was set by an impassioned speech by Argentine activist Bruno Rodriguez, 19, who led school strikes in his native country.

“The climate and ecological crisis is the political crisis of our time, it is the economic crisis of our time, and it is the cultural crisis of our time,” he said, as Guterres, who was billed as the “keynote listener,” watched on.

“Many times, we hear that our generation is going to be the one in charge of dealing with the problems that current leaders have created, and we will not wait passively to become that future: The time is now for us to be leaders.”

Thunberg, whose protests outside Sweden’s parliament last year sparked the global youth movement, spoke first but briefly, saying she wanted to give more time to others.

“We showed we are united and young people are unstoppable,” said the 16-year-old, who will also address Monday’s summit.

On Friday, masses of children skipped school to join global strikes that Thunberg said were “only the beginning” of the movement.

Some four million people filled city streets around the world, organizers said, in what was billed as the biggest-ever protest against the threat posed to the planet by rising temperatures.

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