Cork student: Climate change - countries doing most damage should pay

Two Cork students have reached the regional final in the ActionTalks speech writing competition. Today we carry a speech by JAMES KING, a pupil of McEgan College in Macroom
Cork student: Climate change - countries doing most damage should pay

Displaced people transport their belongings salvaged from their flood-hit home as they cross a flooded area in Sohbat Pur city of Jaffarabad, a district of Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province, in August, 2022. Picture: AP Photo/Zahid Hussain

I AM here today to discuss issues affecting our planet.

Climate change is defined as “long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns. These shifts may be natural, but since the 1800s, human activities have been the main driver of climate change, primarily due to the burning of fossil fuels (like coal, oil, and gas), which produces heat-trapping gases”. (United nations)

Rich countries such as the United States of America, China, Iceland, Canada, and the United Kingdom consume a high amount of energy yearly. This elevated level of fossil fuel energy being used is having a detrimental effect on the planets.

The increased climate change and global warming made by these rich countries creates even worse conditions in poorer countries while the rich countries experience very little of these effects and only get richer and produce more pollution with fossil fuels.

I am in favour of giving reparations to countries affected by the destructive pollution of rich countries

Climate change is beginning to affect even our countries. Did you notice how hot it was last summer? That is only going to get worse. And it has been this bad in countries closer to the equator for quite some time. Tropical storms are much more likely and destructive because of this pollution that we are creating. These storms are destroying entire cities and villages. Look at the most recent example being Pakistan this summer. They experienced their worst flooding ever this year.

Student James King.
Student James King.

Since June 14, 2022, floods in Pakistan have killed 1,717 people. The floods were caused by heavier than usual monsoon rains and melting glaciers that followed a severe heat wave, all of which are linked to climate change and global warming.

Torrential monsoon rains triggered the most severe flooding in Pakistan’s recent history, washing away villages and leaving almost 10 million children in need of immediate, lifesaving support, and at increased risk of waterborne diseases, drowning and malnutrition.

Info from UNICEF: UNICEF seems to rely heavily on public donations to give aid to Pakistan.

What if, we get countries that are doing the most damage to the climate to give the most aid instead of asking the public for aid that governments and the .1% should be supplying.

Example: What if the United States of America or China or the United Kingdom give back to the countries that they have done billions of euros damage to. If we use the same philosophy that I mentioned above for other countries too then we can solve a lot of problems in developing countries. Countries such as South Africa, Haiti, Chad, Bangladesh and of course Pakistan are some of the worst affected countries by climate change.

Climate change may soon be irreversible, and the future generations will suffer for it. This is something that needs to be fixed soon as the damage to the earth will be catastrophic for future generations.

The amount the common person can do to do anything about climate change is extremely minimal. The UN themselves say to cycle to work and to eat vegetables as ways to combat climate change. Now sure these will help a little bit but not enough to reverse climate. The only way climate change is to be reversed is by the governments of the world cracking down on the main sources of climate change and to supply more aid to the poor countries that are affected by these catastrophic weather events.

Thank you for your time and patience. That is why I believe that the governments of rich countries should give back to countries they indirectly destroy through climate change.

Tomorrow we will carry Matilda O’Sullivan’s speech. Matilda is a student from Coláiste an Chraoibhín


ActionTalks speech writing competition is run by ActionAid Ireland and is now in its ninth year. The competition was open to all students aged 14 to 17 across Ireland.

ActionAid Ireland works with women and children, as they take the lead in claiming their human rights to build a more just world.

This year ActionAid received 143 entries from 40 schools across 16 counties. This year’s topics were on climate justice, economic barriers to accessing education and valuing unpaid care work.

Regional finalists are asked to provide a video of themselves reading their speech. This will be graded on the quality of the speech and also on delivery. Two winners from each of the five regional finals will win a €50 voucher and proceed on to the final which will be held in Dublin in March. This year the overall prize is a €500 voucher for the winner and a €100 voucher for their teacher.

CEO of ActionAid Ireland Karol Balfe said: “Choosing the regional finalists was extremely difficult this year. The quality was very high across the country, and we were heartened by the students’ passion and interest in women’s rights, climate and economic justice, and also by how hard they worked on crafting their speeches. We hope those who didn’t make the final continue their interest in social justice. And my very best of luck to Matilda and James in the regional finals.”

This competition is supported by Irish Aid, Department of Foreign Affairs, as part of a women’s rights programme in Kenya, Nepal and Ethiopia.

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