A global superteam of youth climate activists united for a video on Thursday to call on United States President Joe Biden to fulfill his pledge to double US financing for international climate action as a matter of justice and fairness.

The activists spoke from their home countries where they described the increasing toll of the climate crisis, from extreme flooding to devastating droughts. They emphasized the fact that climate change is being disportionately felt in the countries and communities that have contributed the least to the problem, and how wealthy countries largely responsible for the crisis — in particular, the US — have to step up and provide essential financing for mitigation and adaptation. 

The youth activists delivered the message amid the United Nations General Assembly in New York, during which world leaders are gathering to discuss topics such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the worsening hunger crisis, and climate change. The video message also came in the days leading up to the return of the Fridays for Future Global Climate Strike on Sept. 23 and the Global Citizen Festival on Sept. 24, both of which aim to generate momentum for global climate action. 

The activists represent a broad cross section of the Fridays for Future movement, including Vanessa Nakate of Uganda, Elizabeth Wathuti of Kenya, Nyombi Morris of Uganda, Mohamed El-hajji of Morocco, Julieta Martínez of Chile, Yero Sarr of Senegal, Yusuf Baluch of Balochistan and Pakistan, Xiye Bastida of Mexico  and the US, Sophia Kianni of Iran and the US, and 2022 Global Citizen Prize Winner Mitzy Cortés of Mexico.

As part of the Global Citizen Festival, we’re campaigning to get countries like the US to close the climate financing gap, provide essential funding to smallholder farmers, empower girls, and contain the worsening hunger crisis, which is closely linked to climate change. 

For more than a decade, low-income countries have been urging wealthy countries to follow through on a commitment for $100 billion in annual international climate financing that was first made at the UN’s climate conference in 2009. After years of stalling, this amount was supposed to finally be reached in 2020, but wealthy countries reneged once again when this date approached and passed

Right now, international climate financing stands at about $83.3 billion and the vast majority has come in the form of loans that need to be paid back. 

To make matters worse, the $100 billion amount was agreed upon when the impacts of climate change were considerably less. Now, low-income countries need far more financial support to deal with exponentially rising climate impacts. And for this financing to truly be effective, advocates say it must come in the form of grants rather than the loans that mire countries in debt

In 2021, President Biden said the US would double its international climate financing to $22 billion, bringing an additional $11 billion to the table, which, by the way, is less than a week of profits for the world’s leading fossil fuel companies. The president, along with the US senate, have the opportunity to realize these funds in next year's budget negotations. 

The voices of the climate activists converge in a powerful refrain to tell US political leaders: “we are counting on you.”

Global Citizen Festival is calling on world leaders, corporations, and philanthropists to do more than they’ve ever done before to End Extreme Poverty NOW. Through our global campaign and with stages in two iconic locations — NYC’s Central Park and Accra’s Black Star Square — we will unite leaders, artists, activists, and Global Citizens around the world on Sept. 24 to achieve an ambitious policy agenda focused on empowering girls and women, taking climate action, breaking systemic barriers, and lifting up activists and advocates. Wherever you are in the world, you can join the campaign and take action right now by downloading the Global Citizen app.


Defend the Planet

Superteam of Climate Activists Urges Biden to Fulfill Environmental Promise

By Joe McCarthy