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Inside the mind of a 23-year-old activist fighting global warming

Insaf Abdelmoula is a Tunisian youth, passionate for climate activism. She is a fourth year medical student who empowers youth to be the leaders in the climate crisis. She is also the founder and President of Unite the World, which is an initiative that aims to teach youth leadership skills to get them involved in promoting peace and tolerance. Abdelmoula was a Tunisian delegate in COP 27 - the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference, which was held in Egypt. She is also the Programme Coordinator for Plant for the Planet, an organization which works to educate adults and children about the problems of climate change and international justice. She spoke to Akasha Usmani.

Insaf Abdelmoula's photo from her Twitter account.

Akasha Usmani (AU): Can you tell us about how you got involved in climate activism?

Insaf Abdelmoula (IA): I’ve been passionate about environmentalism ever since I was a little kid. When I was only seven years old I wrote a comic book about recycling batteries and won a prize for it on behalf of my school. Then as I grew older I started to take the cause more seriously. In 2018, I mobilized youth for a project by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, in return I was sponsored to attend COP 24. That’s when I was first introduced to climate policy and started to take interest in climate negotiations, now I am a proud Tunisian delegate.

AU: Young people are a more powerful force than ever. What do you think is the importance of involving young activists in the climate crisis?

IA: I think that involving youth is without doubt crucial. We are the future generations, and we are the ones who will have to suffer the future effects of climate change. Since we are arguably the ones who are concerned the most by this crisis our voices matter and shall be heard.

AU: You have attended the UN climate change negotiations as a Tunisian delegate with the main focus on Article 6 of the Paris agreement. Can you give us a brief as to what this article talks about?

IA: Article 6 of the Paris Agreement allows countries to voluntarily cooperate with each other to achieve emission reduction targets set out in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). This means that, under Article 6, a country (or countries) will be able to transfer carbon credits earned from the reduction of GHG emissions to help one or more countries meet climate targets.

AU: What do you think is the main reason for the lack of action on climate change?

IA: I think that there are two main reasons for this. The first reason being the most obvious one, is that we have developed an economic model that makes us dependent on fossil fuels. We now realize that this is not only a leading cause for climate change but also a great threat to energy security. The second reason is that world leaders still only think in the limited scope of their own countries’ interest, whereas we face a global crisis that requires collective cooperation to achieve the collective good of all.

AU: What are your views on the recent art attack on museums by the youth activists to demand climate change action?

IA: It is not an approach I would adopt myself but they did succeed at bringing attention to the cause, I command their courage.

AU: How would you assess the state commitments and participation in the COP 27 Summit in terms of their willingness to contribute to collective climate action?

IA: I think those commitments still lack seriousness and most importantly ambition fit for the climate crisis, but there has been progress albeit very slow. The best we can do is keep on fighting and hope we manage to solve this crisis.

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