AMNESTY International has warned that the failure of world governments to tackle global climate change could amount to “one of the greatest inter-generational human rights violations in history” as Kumi Naidoo, the organisation’s Secretary General and former Head of Greenpeace, welcomed a global day of school strikes planned by young people for this Friday (15 March).

Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, said:

“Amnesty International stands with all children and young people who are organising and taking part in school strikes for climate action. This is an important social justice movement that is mobilising thousands of people to peacefully call on governments to stop climate change.

“It’s unfortunate that children have to sacrifice days of learning in school to demand that adults do the right thing. However, they know the consequences of the current shameful inaction both for themselves and future generations. This should be a moment for stark self-reflection by our political class.

“Instead of criticising young people for taking part in these protests, like some misguided politicians have done, we should be asking why governments are getting away with playing truant on climate action.

“Climate change is a human rights issue precisely because of the impact it’s having on people. It compounds and magnifies existing inequalities, and it is children who will grow up to see its increasingly frightening effects. The fact that most governments have barely lifted a finger in response to our mutually assured destruction amounts to one of the greatest inter-generational human rights violations in history.

“Children are often told they are ‘tomorrow’s leaders’. But if they wait until ‘tomorrow’ there may not be a future in which to lead. Young people are putting their leaders to shame with the passion and determination they are showing to fight this crucial battle now.”

Amnesty warned that climate change will have even more devastating impacts on human rights unless governments act now to change course.

Climate change especially affects people who are already vulnerable, disadvantaged or subject to discrimination.

Children especially are more vulnerable to climate-related impacts, due to their specific metabolism, physiology and developmental needs. Climate change also poses a risk to their mental health; children exposed to traumatic events such as natural disasters, exacerbated by climate change, can suffer from post-traumatic stress disorders.