“The climate emergency has awakened consciences across the world, thanks to the perseverance of scientists and their words, but also and above all thanks to the action of young people,” said Jennifer De Temmerman (France, ALDE), at the opening of a parliamentary hearing on “Inaction on climate change – a violation of children's rights”, organised by the PACE Sub-Committee on Children, in the framework of the World Forum for Democracy.
Ms De Temmerman, who is currently preparing a report on this issue, stressed that youth-led actions such as the “Fridays for future” demonstrations clearly challenge policy-makers on the participation of children in debates that concern them, and on the issue of the quality of life of future generations in the face of environmental disruption.
She also mentioned the application to the European Court of Human Rights – still pending – by six young Portuguese people, who accuse 33 European States of failing to meet their climate commitments. “Similar applications at national level are multiplying across Europe and beyond, often with the participation of the younger generation,” she said.
The hearing gave young pupils the opportunity to express themselves face-to-face and remotely on children's right to a healthy environment; the role of schools in raising young people‘s awareness of protecting the planet; co-operation between children and public authorities in the fight against climate change; what young people expect from policy-makers in terms of action; and how they see the inevitable changes in our lifestyles, aspiring for more sustainability (particularly with regard to food, transport, consumption patterns, educational choices, or work organisation).
Other participants in the hearing included members of the PACE Sub-Committee on Children, young climate activists, NGO representatives, and a representative of the Division for Democracy Education of the Austrian Parliament.