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A Ghanaian cuts the jargon and delivers a message to COP27

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A Ghanaian cuts the jargon and delivers a message to COP27
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SHARM el-SHEIKH, Egypt — By their very nature, UN climate negotiations are filled with scientific and diplomatic jargon.

So when 10-year-old Nakeeyat Dramani Sam spoke at a Friday plenary session with hundreds of delegates, his soft voice and direct message cut through the drought, reminding negotiators and all who listen that the Decisions made at climate talks can have a direct impact on people.

Speaking of the suffering in Ghana due to the floods, she held up a sign that read: “Delayed payment”.

“I put a simple question on the table,” she said. “When can you pay us back?” Because the payment is late.

Sam was talking about a thorny issue that has taken center stage over the past two weeks of negotiations at the summit called COP27, held in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. Many developing countries are insisting that rich countries, which have contributed the most to climate change due to high greenhouse gas emissions, compensate them for the damage.

In climate negotiations, the issue is called “loss and damage”. It’s a topic that produces a wide range of opinions and nuanced battle lines. Developed countries like the United States have resisted such calls for compensation, not wanting to be held responsible for what could be unlimited liability. China, also a high carbon emitter, supports the idea of ​​rich countries contributing to these payments, but does not want to pay. On Thursday, the European Union presented a proposal to create a fund for loss and damage. While the proposal gave negotiators something specific to chew on, it also likely deepened divisions.

Sam’s speech didn’t care about the machinations of the negotiations, but rather had the kind of directness and freshness that comes naturally to children.

She told attendees that she had met with US climate envoy John Kerry earlier this week. Kerry had been nice, she said, and the meeting made her think about the future.

Her next sentence contained humor, even though she certainly didn’t mean that.

“When I am her age, God willing, that will be the end of this century,” she said, saying implicitly, as children often do of adults, that Kerry was old. Kerry is 78 years old.

Shortly after, a powerful and direct message came.

Speaking about how scientists say the world has less than a decade to continue polluting at the current rate before the effects of global warming worsen, Sam said: “Have a heart and do the math . It’s an emergency.”

When Sam finished speaking, she received a standing ovation.

In an interview afterwards, Sam said his conservationist started a few years ago with a love for trees. She wrote a children’s book on trees in Ghana and to date has planted over 100 trees.

“I also call for action for every child to plant a tree,” she said, standing with her mother and aunt.

Sam said she was a poet, and when prompted, she recited a poem about climate change from memory that ended with urgings on rich countries to take responsibility for historic climate damage and pay . Children were in the best position to convey such messages, she said, because they would be there to suffer the consequences of global warming.

“We are the future leaders, so when we talk, people listen,” she said. “I don’t know about adults because I’m not their age. ”

The Associated Press’s climate and environmental coverage receives support from several private foundations. Learn more about AP’s climate initiative here. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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