Climate change a hot topic at Blinken’s townhall session

KUALA LUMPUR: The hot topic of climate change was topmost on the minds of Malaysian youths during a townhall session with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Following the conclusion of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, last month, they were keen to hear his thoughts on how the issues and solutions surrounding climate change would be brought forward to achieve key targets.

“I was in Glasgow for COP26 and one of the things I heard loud and clear was the voice of young people speaking up about the challenges we face and imperatively taking action.

“We have to be in this together. It doesn’t work any other way.

“The US, we historically have contributed the most emissions over time that have been accumulated.

“Right now, we are at about 15% of global emissions.

“Even if we did everything right at home, that still doesn’t account for the other 85% coming in from other areas.

“So we have a stake in making sure other countries are stepping up, just as they have a stake that we’re stepping up,” he said yesterday.

Moving forward, he said change would depend on all the countries that had made pledges to address climate change to make good on those pledges.

“We have to keep raising our ambitions.

“We also have an obligation to make sure countries that need assistance in making the necessary transitions, adapting, building resilience and bringing in new technology, have the support they need and this is something that President (Joe) Biden feels strongly about,” he said.

Blinken was taking part in a hybrid virtual and in-person townhall with some 60 Malaysian alumni of the Young South-East Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) at Me.reka in Publika Shopping Gallery here.

During the townhall, Blinken also took questions, which touched, among others, on mental health, the role of women in science and engineering and youths in leadership.

“From my own experience, I’ve found that virtually every problem you can think of somewhere, somehow, someone has probably found a way to overcome it.

“But if you don’t share that information, then you’re constantly in the process of reinventing the wheel,” he said.

YSEALI was created to build relationships across South-East Asia through the engagement of young people.

“The power of YSEALI and other similar programmes is that it is a way of sharing information, ideas and solutions,” he said.

Blinken said YSEALI had grown into a network of 150,000 people across South-East Asia since it was launched in 2013.

“In Malaysia alone, there are at least 10,000 members and the energy of the Malaysia chapter is truly extraordinary.

“As young leaders, you are bringing a spirit of teamwork and dedication to the community and to everything that you’re doing,” he told the participants.

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