Youth leaders on Saturday gathered at the United Nations climate change summit to urge world leaders to take urgent measures to stop an “environmental catastrophe”, Reuters reported. This came a day after millions of young people took to streets around the world and asked politicians who will arrive in New York for a United Nations Climate Action Summit next week to take the matter seriously.

The summit was an informal event organised to connect young activists and entrepreneurs with global leaders to encourage support for technological and policy solutions to fight climate change.

Youth activists told United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres that leaders at the UN climate summit on Monday cannot ignore their outpouring of action, anger and fear.

The protests on Friday were inspired by the 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. “We showed that we are united and that we, young people, are unstoppable,” Thunberg told Guterres.

Fijian climate change activist Komal Karishma Kumar said that world leaders who negotiated climate change treaties since 1992 have not yet been able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. “We will hold you accountable,” Kumar said at the summit. “And if you do not remember we will mobilise to vote you out.”

Kumar also added that global warming affected not just the planet but her whole generation, AP reported. “Young people from different parts of the world are living in constant fear and climate anxiety, fearing the future, the uncertainty of a healthy life or a life for their children at all,” she said. “I do not want our future generations to submerge with our sinking islands.”

The UN secretary general urged the youth activists to keep the pressure on and credited them for transforming him from a pessimist into an optimist in the fight against global warming.

“Hold my generation accountable,” Guterres told them. “My generation has largely failed until now to preserve both justice in the world and the planet.”

Around 60 countries and a range of business leaders are expected to make pledges to take action on climate change during the summit called by Guterres.

Now, follow and debate the day’s most significant stories on Scroll Exchange.