President wants to be a voice of young people at the Glasgow Conference

President wants to be a voice of young people at the Glasgow Conference

President Čaputová travelled to Glasgow on Sunday 31 October 2021, where she represented Slovakia at the U.N. Climate Change Conference.

The conference was the most significant global climate forum since the adoption of the 2015 Paris Agreement. The two-week event started with the World Leaders Summit, on 1 and 2 November. The president spoke on Tuesday morning.  

According to the president, the conference is one of the last chances for handling the climate crisis and finding solutions for slowing it down. Her aim was to be a voice for young people, because the quality of their lives in the future depends on decisions that are made today. 

“Time is of the essence. It is good that that we have signed up to the European climate goals. However, our strategies and plans do not fully reflect this commitment.   That is why we must increase our efforts. We need a specific and real plan for achieving our climate goals, so that in the future young people will not have to pay the price for our decisions.”

It is mainly the young people who feel fear and anxiety in connection with climate change. According to surveys carried out by the Median SK agency in cooperation with the Office of the President of the Slovak Republic, up to 42 percent of Slovaks aged 16 to 25 are extremely worried about the impacts of climate change.  Up to 73 percent of respondents aged 16 to 25 think that mankind has failed to look after the planet. The majority of young people (67 percent) are disappointed by politicians who do not pay sufficient attention to climate change and up to 74 percent of young Slovaks are willing to make do with less and make compromises in their life style to help the environment.   

“We need hope that we can face climate change. This is also why the Glasgow Climate Change Conference is of immense importance. It is the responsibility of us, politicians, regarding the decisions we make. I think that our future will most certainly look back at the Glasgow Climate Change Conference and let’s hope that it will not be a look at the failure of world politicians. Young people especially are worried about climate change and it is our duty to give them hope.” 

According to available scientific studies, if the countries fail to urgently commit themselves to reduce emissions at least by 45% by 2030, everybody will feel the devastating impacts of climate change. In this connection, the president appreciates the fact that Slovakia and the rest of the EU have adopted the commitment to reduce emissions by 55% by 2030. However, the others must follow, as the 10 largest producers of emissions, with China at the top, are responsible for two thirds of all global emissions.

The president decided to fly to Scotland on an ordinary commercial airline and thus reduce the carbon footprint created by the official government plane. On Monday evening, she attended the reception hosted by Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister and attended by members of the British Royal Family and Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland.

During the conference the president planned bilateral meetings with Volodymyr Zelensky, the President of Ukraine, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, the Prime Minister of Iceland, Patricia Espinosa, the executive secretary of UNFCCC and Al Gore, former Vice-President of the United States. On Wednesday she met young Slovaks in Edinburgh who are studying at universities in Scotland.

The Presidential Palace was symbolically illuminated in green on 1 and 2 November on the occasion of the UN Climate Change Conference.