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The rangatahi headlining the global climate summit

Māori climate activist India Logan-Riley from Aotearoa speaks during the opening event of the UN climate summit. Photo / Alberto Pezzali AP

This story was originally published on Stuff.

World leaders have gathered to negotiate the final details of a global bid to keep the planet under 1.5-2C. Olivia Wannan reports from Glasgow.

Receiving a special invitation from the hosts of the UN climate summit in Glasgow to speak, it was India Logan-Riley’s job to give them a scolding.

Māori campaigner Logan-Riley – attending their sixth Conference of the Parties (or COP) – represented Indigenous communities at the opening event of the annual meeting, intended to limit global emissions and prevent catastrophic climate change.

The Kiwi activist had to commit to be “brave in terms of calling out the host country, which also caused these harms to my community”.

Most of the inspiration came from “shower thoughts,” Logan-Riley said. They only received a few days’ notice to prepare. “I definitely felt a lot of obligation to get it right.”

The speech began with a mihi whakatau, then Logan-Riley’s introduction as being from the East Coast nation of Ngāti Kahungunu within Aotearoa – “colonially known as New Zealand”. They spoke of the 2019-20 Australian bushfires, which reddened the skies.

“Doctors told us that they were seeing higher amounts of people with breathing issues related to the smoke in the air. In that moment, our health was bound to the struggle of the land and people in another country. In the impacts of climate change, our fates are intertwined.”

Logan-Riley voiced communities’ frustration with the lack of progress: “I am the same age as these negotiations. I have grown up, graduated, fallen in love, fallen out of love, stopped and changed a couple of careers along the way,” they said. “All while the Global North colonial governments and corporations fudge with the future.”

Meanwhile, Indigenous-led action has successfully kept fossil fuels in the ground, Logan-Riley added.

The roots of climate change lay within colonialism, Logan-Riley said: “252 years ago, invading forces sent by the ancestors of this presidency arrived in my ancestors’ territory, heralding an age of violence and murder and destruction.”

Logan-Riley only decided to attend the UN talks at the last minute, due to the pandemic and travel restrictions. These, plus unequal access to vaccines, have made it especially challenging to come to Glasgow. Many delegates from Pacific Island nations were unable to attend, casting a dampener on the mood of the event in its opening days.

“They are the moral compass of negotiations like these,” they said. “It makes our work a bit harder – to try to show up a bit stronger. At the same time, the [Paris Agreement] rule book has to happen this year.”

The COP26 conference had two days of opening ceremonies – Sunday marked the opening of the summit, when negotiators got down to work. Monday’s event featured world leaders and key figures, from US president Joe Biden, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and British prime minister Boris Johnson to Prince Charles and climate activist Al Gore.

At the second ceremony, Brianna Fruean​ – representing Samoa – was an early speaker. The Auckland-born climate activist stressed the importance of words, and asked world leaders to do better.

“In your words, you wield the weapons that save us or sell us out,” she said.

“I don’t need to remind you the reality of vulnerable communities. If you’re here today you know what climate change is doing to us. You don’t need my pain or my tears to know we’re in a crisis. The real question is whether you have the political will to do the right thing, to wield the right words and to follow it up with long overdue action.”

But she stressed that young people from Pacific nations are not just victims, but also beacons of hope. “This is our warrior cry to the world: we are not drowning, we are fighting.”

Brianna Fruean represented Samoa at COP26. Photo / David White

Kiwi scientists also got an unexpected shout-out from prime minister Johnson, who mentioned the “brilliant” researchers trying to train methane-belching cows to “be more polite”.

Many speakers at the ceremony stressed the power that the assembled figures held, urging them to use it to take action. But scientists also reminded them of their place in the bigger picture.

Natural historian David Attenborough​ noted that humanity only flourished after atmospheric carbon and global temperatures stabilised 10,000 years ago.

“We found ourselves in an unusually benign period. With predictably seasons and reliable weather for the first time, civilisation was possible, and we wasted no time in taking advantage of that,” he said.

“We are already in trouble. The stability we all depend on is breaking.”

An earlier visual presentation, featuring the voice of British science broadcaster Brian Cox​, displayed a small Earth in the wider universe. He stressed to world leaders, fresh from mingling and schmoozing with each other, that the planet holds the only known form of life.

“We must consider ourselves and our world to be inconceivably valuable.”

As the negotiations took place elsewhere, leaders gave short speeches Monday afternoon, and will continue on Tuesday. A number of coalitions and initiatives – including the US-European Union pledge to cut methane emissions 30 percent by 2030 – will also be formally unveiled on the third day of the meeting.

No items found.
Māori climate activist India Logan-Riley from Aotearoa speaks during the opening event of the UN climate summit. Photo / Alberto Pezzali AP

This story was originally published on Stuff.

World leaders have gathered to negotiate the final details of a global bid to keep the planet under 1.5-2C. Olivia Wannan reports from Glasgow.

Receiving a special invitation from the hosts of the UN climate summit in Glasgow to speak, it was India Logan-Riley’s job to give them a scolding.

Māori campaigner Logan-Riley – attending their sixth Conference of the Parties (or COP) – represented Indigenous communities at the opening event of the annual meeting, intended to limit global emissions and prevent catastrophic climate change.

The Kiwi activist had to commit to be “brave in terms of calling out the host country, which also caused these harms to my community”.

Most of the inspiration came from “shower thoughts,” Logan-Riley said. They only received a few days’ notice to prepare. “I definitely felt a lot of obligation to get it right.”

The speech began with a mihi whakatau, then Logan-Riley’s introduction as being from the East Coast nation of Ngāti Kahungunu within Aotearoa – “colonially known as New Zealand”. They spoke of the 2019-20 Australian bushfires, which reddened the skies.

“Doctors told us that they were seeing higher amounts of people with breathing issues related to the smoke in the air. In that moment, our health was bound to the struggle of the land and people in another country. In the impacts of climate change, our fates are intertwined.”

Logan-Riley voiced communities’ frustration with the lack of progress: “I am the same age as these negotiations. I have grown up, graduated, fallen in love, fallen out of love, stopped and changed a couple of careers along the way,” they said. “All while the Global North colonial governments and corporations fudge with the future.”

Meanwhile, Indigenous-led action has successfully kept fossil fuels in the ground, Logan-Riley added.

The roots of climate change lay within colonialism, Logan-Riley said: “252 years ago, invading forces sent by the ancestors of this presidency arrived in my ancestors’ territory, heralding an age of violence and murder and destruction.”

Logan-Riley only decided to attend the UN talks at the last minute, due to the pandemic and travel restrictions. These, plus unequal access to vaccines, have made it especially challenging to come to Glasgow. Many delegates from Pacific Island nations were unable to attend, casting a dampener on the mood of the event in its opening days.

“They are the moral compass of negotiations like these,” they said. “It makes our work a bit harder – to try to show up a bit stronger. At the same time, the [Paris Agreement] rule book has to happen this year.”

The COP26 conference had two days of opening ceremonies – Sunday marked the opening of the summit, when negotiators got down to work. Monday’s event featured world leaders and key figures, from US president Joe Biden, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and British prime minister Boris Johnson to Prince Charles and climate activist Al Gore.

At the second ceremony, Brianna Fruean​ – representing Samoa – was an early speaker. The Auckland-born climate activist stressed the importance of words, and asked world leaders to do better.

“In your words, you wield the weapons that save us or sell us out,” she said.

“I don’t need to remind you the reality of vulnerable communities. If you’re here today you know what climate change is doing to us. You don’t need my pain or my tears to know we’re in a crisis. The real question is whether you have the political will to do the right thing, to wield the right words and to follow it up with long overdue action.”

But she stressed that young people from Pacific nations are not just victims, but also beacons of hope. “This is our warrior cry to the world: we are not drowning, we are fighting.”

Brianna Fruean represented Samoa at COP26. Photo / David White

Kiwi scientists also got an unexpected shout-out from prime minister Johnson, who mentioned the “brilliant” researchers trying to train methane-belching cows to “be more polite”.

Many speakers at the ceremony stressed the power that the assembled figures held, urging them to use it to take action. But scientists also reminded them of their place in the bigger picture.

Natural historian David Attenborough​ noted that humanity only flourished after atmospheric carbon and global temperatures stabilised 10,000 years ago.

“We found ourselves in an unusually benign period. With predictably seasons and reliable weather for the first time, civilisation was possible, and we wasted no time in taking advantage of that,” he said.

“We are already in trouble. The stability we all depend on is breaking.”

An earlier visual presentation, featuring the voice of British science broadcaster Brian Cox​, displayed a small Earth in the wider universe. He stressed to world leaders, fresh from mingling and schmoozing with each other, that the planet holds the only known form of life.

“We must consider ourselves and our world to be inconceivably valuable.”

As the negotiations took place elsewhere, leaders gave short speeches Monday afternoon, and will continue on Tuesday. A number of coalitions and initiatives – including the US-European Union pledge to cut methane emissions 30 percent by 2030 – will also be formally unveiled on the third day of the meeting.

Creativity, evocative visual storytelling and good journalism come at a price. Support our work and join the Ensemble membership program
No items found.
Māori climate activist India Logan-Riley from Aotearoa speaks during the opening event of the UN climate summit. Photo / Alberto Pezzali AP

This story was originally published on Stuff.

World leaders have gathered to negotiate the final details of a global bid to keep the planet under 1.5-2C. Olivia Wannan reports from Glasgow.

Receiving a special invitation from the hosts of the UN climate summit in Glasgow to speak, it was India Logan-Riley’s job to give them a scolding.

Māori campaigner Logan-Riley – attending their sixth Conference of the Parties (or COP) – represented Indigenous communities at the opening event of the annual meeting, intended to limit global emissions and prevent catastrophic climate change.

The Kiwi activist had to commit to be “brave in terms of calling out the host country, which also caused these harms to my community”.

Most of the inspiration came from “shower thoughts,” Logan-Riley said. They only received a few days’ notice to prepare. “I definitely felt a lot of obligation to get it right.”

The speech began with a mihi whakatau, then Logan-Riley’s introduction as being from the East Coast nation of Ngāti Kahungunu within Aotearoa – “colonially known as New Zealand”. They spoke of the 2019-20 Australian bushfires, which reddened the skies.

“Doctors told us that they were seeing higher amounts of people with breathing issues related to the smoke in the air. In that moment, our health was bound to the struggle of the land and people in another country. In the impacts of climate change, our fates are intertwined.”

Logan-Riley voiced communities’ frustration with the lack of progress: “I am the same age as these negotiations. I have grown up, graduated, fallen in love, fallen out of love, stopped and changed a couple of careers along the way,” they said. “All while the Global North colonial governments and corporations fudge with the future.”

Meanwhile, Indigenous-led action has successfully kept fossil fuels in the ground, Logan-Riley added.

The roots of climate change lay within colonialism, Logan-Riley said: “252 years ago, invading forces sent by the ancestors of this presidency arrived in my ancestors’ territory, heralding an age of violence and murder and destruction.”

Logan-Riley only decided to attend the UN talks at the last minute, due to the pandemic and travel restrictions. These, plus unequal access to vaccines, have made it especially challenging to come to Glasgow. Many delegates from Pacific Island nations were unable to attend, casting a dampener on the mood of the event in its opening days.

“They are the moral compass of negotiations like these,” they said. “It makes our work a bit harder – to try to show up a bit stronger. At the same time, the [Paris Agreement] rule book has to happen this year.”

The COP26 conference had two days of opening ceremonies – Sunday marked the opening of the summit, when negotiators got down to work. Monday’s event featured world leaders and key figures, from US president Joe Biden, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and British prime minister Boris Johnson to Prince Charles and climate activist Al Gore.

At the second ceremony, Brianna Fruean​ – representing Samoa – was an early speaker. The Auckland-born climate activist stressed the importance of words, and asked world leaders to do better.

“In your words, you wield the weapons that save us or sell us out,” she said.

“I don’t need to remind you the reality of vulnerable communities. If you’re here today you know what climate change is doing to us. You don’t need my pain or my tears to know we’re in a crisis. The real question is whether you have the political will to do the right thing, to wield the right words and to follow it up with long overdue action.”

But she stressed that young people from Pacific nations are not just victims, but also beacons of hope. “This is our warrior cry to the world: we are not drowning, we are fighting.”

Brianna Fruean represented Samoa at COP26. Photo / David White

Kiwi scientists also got an unexpected shout-out from prime minister Johnson, who mentioned the “brilliant” researchers trying to train methane-belching cows to “be more polite”.

Many speakers at the ceremony stressed the power that the assembled figures held, urging them to use it to take action. But scientists also reminded them of their place in the bigger picture.

Natural historian David Attenborough​ noted that humanity only flourished after atmospheric carbon and global temperatures stabilised 10,000 years ago.

“We found ourselves in an unusually benign period. With predictably seasons and reliable weather for the first time, civilisation was possible, and we wasted no time in taking advantage of that,” he said.

“We are already in trouble. The stability we all depend on is breaking.”

An earlier visual presentation, featuring the voice of British science broadcaster Brian Cox​, displayed a small Earth in the wider universe. He stressed to world leaders, fresh from mingling and schmoozing with each other, that the planet holds the only known form of life.

“We must consider ourselves and our world to be inconceivably valuable.”

As the negotiations took place elsewhere, leaders gave short speeches Monday afternoon, and will continue on Tuesday. A number of coalitions and initiatives – including the US-European Union pledge to cut methane emissions 30 percent by 2030 – will also be formally unveiled on the third day of the meeting.

Creativity, evocative visual storytelling and good journalism come at a price. Support our work and join the Ensemble membership program
No items found.

The rangatahi headlining the global climate summit

Māori climate activist India Logan-Riley from Aotearoa speaks during the opening event of the UN climate summit. Photo / Alberto Pezzali AP

This story was originally published on Stuff.

World leaders have gathered to negotiate the final details of a global bid to keep the planet under 1.5-2C. Olivia Wannan reports from Glasgow.

Receiving a special invitation from the hosts of the UN climate summit in Glasgow to speak, it was India Logan-Riley’s job to give them a scolding.

Māori campaigner Logan-Riley – attending their sixth Conference of the Parties (or COP) – represented Indigenous communities at the opening event of the annual meeting, intended to limit global emissions and prevent catastrophic climate change.

The Kiwi activist had to commit to be “brave in terms of calling out the host country, which also caused these harms to my community”.

Most of the inspiration came from “shower thoughts,” Logan-Riley said. They only received a few days’ notice to prepare. “I definitely felt a lot of obligation to get it right.”

The speech began with a mihi whakatau, then Logan-Riley’s introduction as being from the East Coast nation of Ngāti Kahungunu within Aotearoa – “colonially known as New Zealand”. They spoke of the 2019-20 Australian bushfires, which reddened the skies.

“Doctors told us that they were seeing higher amounts of people with breathing issues related to the smoke in the air. In that moment, our health was bound to the struggle of the land and people in another country. In the impacts of climate change, our fates are intertwined.”

Logan-Riley voiced communities’ frustration with the lack of progress: “I am the same age as these negotiations. I have grown up, graduated, fallen in love, fallen out of love, stopped and changed a couple of careers along the way,” they said. “All while the Global North colonial governments and corporations fudge with the future.”

Meanwhile, Indigenous-led action has successfully kept fossil fuels in the ground, Logan-Riley added.

The roots of climate change lay within colonialism, Logan-Riley said: “252 years ago, invading forces sent by the ancestors of this presidency arrived in my ancestors’ territory, heralding an age of violence and murder and destruction.”

Logan-Riley only decided to attend the UN talks at the last minute, due to the pandemic and travel restrictions. These, plus unequal access to vaccines, have made it especially challenging to come to Glasgow. Many delegates from Pacific Island nations were unable to attend, casting a dampener on the mood of the event in its opening days.

“They are the moral compass of negotiations like these,” they said. “It makes our work a bit harder – to try to show up a bit stronger. At the same time, the [Paris Agreement] rule book has to happen this year.”

The COP26 conference had two days of opening ceremonies – Sunday marked the opening of the summit, when negotiators got down to work. Monday’s event featured world leaders and key figures, from US president Joe Biden, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and British prime minister Boris Johnson to Prince Charles and climate activist Al Gore.

At the second ceremony, Brianna Fruean​ – representing Samoa – was an early speaker. The Auckland-born climate activist stressed the importance of words, and asked world leaders to do better.

“In your words, you wield the weapons that save us or sell us out,” she said.

“I don’t need to remind you the reality of vulnerable communities. If you’re here today you know what climate change is doing to us. You don’t need my pain or my tears to know we’re in a crisis. The real question is whether you have the political will to do the right thing, to wield the right words and to follow it up with long overdue action.”

But she stressed that young people from Pacific nations are not just victims, but also beacons of hope. “This is our warrior cry to the world: we are not drowning, we are fighting.”

Brianna Fruean represented Samoa at COP26. Photo / David White

Kiwi scientists also got an unexpected shout-out from prime minister Johnson, who mentioned the “brilliant” researchers trying to train methane-belching cows to “be more polite”.

Many speakers at the ceremony stressed the power that the assembled figures held, urging them to use it to take action. But scientists also reminded them of their place in the bigger picture.

Natural historian David Attenborough​ noted that humanity only flourished after atmospheric carbon and global temperatures stabilised 10,000 years ago.

“We found ourselves in an unusually benign period. With predictably seasons and reliable weather for the first time, civilisation was possible, and we wasted no time in taking advantage of that,” he said.

“We are already in trouble. The stability we all depend on is breaking.”

An earlier visual presentation, featuring the voice of British science broadcaster Brian Cox​, displayed a small Earth in the wider universe. He stressed to world leaders, fresh from mingling and schmoozing with each other, that the planet holds the only known form of life.

“We must consider ourselves and our world to be inconceivably valuable.”

As the negotiations took place elsewhere, leaders gave short speeches Monday afternoon, and will continue on Tuesday. A number of coalitions and initiatives – including the US-European Union pledge to cut methane emissions 30 percent by 2030 – will also be formally unveiled on the third day of the meeting.

Creativity, evocative visual storytelling and good journalism come at a price. Support our work and join the Ensemble membership program
No items found.
Māori climate activist India Logan-Riley from Aotearoa speaks during the opening event of the UN climate summit. Photo / Alberto Pezzali AP

This story was originally published on Stuff.

World leaders have gathered to negotiate the final details of a global bid to keep the planet under 1.5-2C. Olivia Wannan reports from Glasgow.

Receiving a special invitation from the hosts of the UN climate summit in Glasgow to speak, it was India Logan-Riley’s job to give them a scolding.

Māori campaigner Logan-Riley – attending their sixth Conference of the Parties (or COP) – represented Indigenous communities at the opening event of the annual meeting, intended to limit global emissions and prevent catastrophic climate change.

The Kiwi activist had to commit to be “brave in terms of calling out the host country, which also caused these harms to my community”.

Most of the inspiration came from “shower thoughts,” Logan-Riley said. They only received a few days’ notice to prepare. “I definitely felt a lot of obligation to get it right.”

The speech began with a mihi whakatau, then Logan-Riley’s introduction as being from the East Coast nation of Ngāti Kahungunu within Aotearoa – “colonially known as New Zealand”. They spoke of the 2019-20 Australian bushfires, which reddened the skies.

“Doctors told us that they were seeing higher amounts of people with breathing issues related to the smoke in the air. In that moment, our health was bound to the struggle of the land and people in another country. In the impacts of climate change, our fates are intertwined.”

Logan-Riley voiced communities’ frustration with the lack of progress: “I am the same age as these negotiations. I have grown up, graduated, fallen in love, fallen out of love, stopped and changed a couple of careers along the way,” they said. “All while the Global North colonial governments and corporations fudge with the future.”

Meanwhile, Indigenous-led action has successfully kept fossil fuels in the ground, Logan-Riley added.

The roots of climate change lay within colonialism, Logan-Riley said: “252 years ago, invading forces sent by the ancestors of this presidency arrived in my ancestors’ territory, heralding an age of violence and murder and destruction.”

Logan-Riley only decided to attend the UN talks at the last minute, due to the pandemic and travel restrictions. These, plus unequal access to vaccines, have made it especially challenging to come to Glasgow. Many delegates from Pacific Island nations were unable to attend, casting a dampener on the mood of the event in its opening days.

“They are the moral compass of negotiations like these,” they said. “It makes our work a bit harder – to try to show up a bit stronger. At the same time, the [Paris Agreement] rule book has to happen this year.”

The COP26 conference had two days of opening ceremonies – Sunday marked the opening of the summit, when negotiators got down to work. Monday’s event featured world leaders and key figures, from US president Joe Biden, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and British prime minister Boris Johnson to Prince Charles and climate activist Al Gore.

At the second ceremony, Brianna Fruean​ – representing Samoa – was an early speaker. The Auckland-born climate activist stressed the importance of words, and asked world leaders to do better.

“In your words, you wield the weapons that save us or sell us out,” she said.

“I don’t need to remind you the reality of vulnerable communities. If you’re here today you know what climate change is doing to us. You don’t need my pain or my tears to know we’re in a crisis. The real question is whether you have the political will to do the right thing, to wield the right words and to follow it up with long overdue action.”

But she stressed that young people from Pacific nations are not just victims, but also beacons of hope. “This is our warrior cry to the world: we are not drowning, we are fighting.”

Brianna Fruean represented Samoa at COP26. Photo / David White

Kiwi scientists also got an unexpected shout-out from prime minister Johnson, who mentioned the “brilliant” researchers trying to train methane-belching cows to “be more polite”.

Many speakers at the ceremony stressed the power that the assembled figures held, urging them to use it to take action. But scientists also reminded them of their place in the bigger picture.

Natural historian David Attenborough​ noted that humanity only flourished after atmospheric carbon and global temperatures stabilised 10,000 years ago.

“We found ourselves in an unusually benign period. With predictably seasons and reliable weather for the first time, civilisation was possible, and we wasted no time in taking advantage of that,” he said.

“We are already in trouble. The stability we all depend on is breaking.”

An earlier visual presentation, featuring the voice of British science broadcaster Brian Cox​, displayed a small Earth in the wider universe. He stressed to world leaders, fresh from mingling and schmoozing with each other, that the planet holds the only known form of life.

“We must consider ourselves and our world to be inconceivably valuable.”

As the negotiations took place elsewhere, leaders gave short speeches Monday afternoon, and will continue on Tuesday. A number of coalitions and initiatives – including the US-European Union pledge to cut methane emissions 30 percent by 2030 – will also be formally unveiled on the third day of the meeting.

Creativity, evocative visual storytelling and good journalism come at a price. Support our work and join the Ensemble membership program
No items found.

The rangatahi headlining the global climate summit

Māori climate activist India Logan-Riley from Aotearoa speaks during the opening event of the UN climate summit. Photo / Alberto Pezzali AP

This story was originally published on Stuff.

World leaders have gathered to negotiate the final details of a global bid to keep the planet under 1.5-2C. Olivia Wannan reports from Glasgow.

Receiving a special invitation from the hosts of the UN climate summit in Glasgow to speak, it was India Logan-Riley’s job to give them a scolding.

Māori campaigner Logan-Riley – attending their sixth Conference of the Parties (or COP) – represented Indigenous communities at the opening event of the annual meeting, intended to limit global emissions and prevent catastrophic climate change.

The Kiwi activist had to commit to be “brave in terms of calling out the host country, which also caused these harms to my community”.

Most of the inspiration came from “shower thoughts,” Logan-Riley said. They only received a few days’ notice to prepare. “I definitely felt a lot of obligation to get it right.”

The speech began with a mihi whakatau, then Logan-Riley’s introduction as being from the East Coast nation of Ngāti Kahungunu within Aotearoa – “colonially known as New Zealand”. They spoke of the 2019-20 Australian bushfires, which reddened the skies.

“Doctors told us that they were seeing higher amounts of people with breathing issues related to the smoke in the air. In that moment, our health was bound to the struggle of the land and people in another country. In the impacts of climate change, our fates are intertwined.”

Logan-Riley voiced communities’ frustration with the lack of progress: “I am the same age as these negotiations. I have grown up, graduated, fallen in love, fallen out of love, stopped and changed a couple of careers along the way,” they said. “All while the Global North colonial governments and corporations fudge with the future.”

Meanwhile, Indigenous-led action has successfully kept fossil fuels in the ground, Logan-Riley added.

The roots of climate change lay within colonialism, Logan-Riley said: “252 years ago, invading forces sent by the ancestors of this presidency arrived in my ancestors’ territory, heralding an age of violence and murder and destruction.”

Logan-Riley only decided to attend the UN talks at the last minute, due to the pandemic and travel restrictions. These, plus unequal access to vaccines, have made it especially challenging to come to Glasgow. Many delegates from Pacific Island nations were unable to attend, casting a dampener on the mood of the event in its opening days.

“They are the moral compass of negotiations like these,” they said. “It makes our work a bit harder – to try to show up a bit stronger. At the same time, the [Paris Agreement] rule book has to happen this year.”

The COP26 conference had two days of opening ceremonies – Sunday marked the opening of the summit, when negotiators got down to work. Monday’s event featured world leaders and key figures, from US president Joe Biden, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and British prime minister Boris Johnson to Prince Charles and climate activist Al Gore.

At the second ceremony, Brianna Fruean​ – representing Samoa – was an early speaker. The Auckland-born climate activist stressed the importance of words, and asked world leaders to do better.

“In your words, you wield the weapons that save us or sell us out,” she said.

“I don’t need to remind you the reality of vulnerable communities. If you’re here today you know what climate change is doing to us. You don’t need my pain or my tears to know we’re in a crisis. The real question is whether you have the political will to do the right thing, to wield the right words and to follow it up with long overdue action.”

But she stressed that young people from Pacific nations are not just victims, but also beacons of hope. “This is our warrior cry to the world: we are not drowning, we are fighting.”

Brianna Fruean represented Samoa at COP26. Photo / David White

Kiwi scientists also got an unexpected shout-out from prime minister Johnson, who mentioned the “brilliant” researchers trying to train methane-belching cows to “be more polite”.

Many speakers at the ceremony stressed the power that the assembled figures held, urging them to use it to take action. But scientists also reminded them of their place in the bigger picture.

Natural historian David Attenborough​ noted that humanity only flourished after atmospheric carbon and global temperatures stabilised 10,000 years ago.

“We found ourselves in an unusually benign period. With predictably seasons and reliable weather for the first time, civilisation was possible, and we wasted no time in taking advantage of that,” he said.

“We are already in trouble. The stability we all depend on is breaking.”

An earlier visual presentation, featuring the voice of British science broadcaster Brian Cox​, displayed a small Earth in the wider universe. He stressed to world leaders, fresh from mingling and schmoozing with each other, that the planet holds the only known form of life.

“We must consider ourselves and our world to be inconceivably valuable.”

As the negotiations took place elsewhere, leaders gave short speeches Monday afternoon, and will continue on Tuesday. A number of coalitions and initiatives – including the US-European Union pledge to cut methane emissions 30 percent by 2030 – will also be formally unveiled on the third day of the meeting.

Creativity, evocative visual storytelling and good journalism come at a price. Support our work and join the Ensemble membership program
No items found.