Indian climate activist, 12, ‘kicked out’ of Cop28 for storming stage demanding action

Licypriya Kangujam disrupts high-level UN plenary session in rare sign of spontaneous protest at climate talks

Shweta Sharma
Tuesday 12 December 2023 05:04 GMT
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<p>Licypriya Kangujam protests against fossil fuels during an event at the COP28 UN climate summit</p>

Licypriya Kangujam protests against fossil fuels during an event at the COP28 UN climate summit

A 12-year-old Indian climate activist says she was briefly detained and then kicked out of Cop28 after she stormed the plenary stage in protest.

Licypriya Kangujam, a prominent child climate activist from Manipur who has been dubbed “India’s Greta Thunberg”, disrupted a speech at the UN talks in Dubai on Monday holding a sign above her head that read: “End fossil fuels. Save our planet and our future.”

Once on stage, Kangujam began delivering a speech calling on countries to commit to phasing out fossil fuels.

Videos of the protest show the young activist shouting “act now” as she is approached by security. Some delegates burst into applause as she was being taken away by security.

Kangujam is accredited by the UN to attend the Dubai talks as an official climate activist, wearing a yellow badge. Late on Monday she shared a video of her protest and said she was detained for 30 minutes afterwards, as well as being told that she would be stripped of her accreditation.

Activists have been highly critical of the way protests have been managed at this year’s talks, hosted by a country with strict laws against unauthorised public assembly. Demonstrations have been limited to an increasingly small number of designated protest sites at the summit venue and must go through a lengthy approvals process.

“My only crime [was] asking to phase out fossil fuels, the top cause of climate crisis today,” wrote Kangujam on X, formerly known as Twitter. “ Now they kicked me out of Cop28.”

Kangujam has been a climate activist since she was seven years old and was awarded a “World Children’s Peace Prize” by the Australia-based founders of the Global Peace Index in 2019.

In her brief speech from the stage on Monday, she shouted: “Governments must work together to phase out coal, oil and gas – the top cause of the climate crisis today. Your action today will decide our future tomorrow. We are already the victim of climate change.

Security officers escort indigenous climate activist from India, Licypriya Kangujam,12, as she protests at the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28

“I don’t want my future generations to face the same consequences again. Sacrificing the lives of the millions of innocent children for the failures of our leaders is unacceptable at any cost.”

Cop28 director-general ambassador Majid Al Suwaidi praised Kangujam for her passion and courage, encouraging the audience to give the young climate activist another round of applause.

Licypriya Kangujam has received a World Children Peace Prize as well as an India Peace Prize

Kangujam ‘s protest came as countries on Monday received a new draft text of Cop28’s final deal, sparking a backlash after it emerged that references to a “phase-out” of fossil fuels had been removed.

Calling time on fossil fuels has been the key demand of around 100 countries, including major powers like the US and EU member states, as well as from developing countries that are especially vulnerable to the climate crisis.

Calls to “phase out” or “phase down” fossil fuels had been included as options in an earlier draft agreement, but the phrases have now both been deleted.

The talks are scheduled to conclude on Tuesday morning, but UN climate talks have rarely finished on time.

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