Marshallese high school student Selina Leem received a standing ovation after her remarks to the global Climate Summit’s closing plenary session in Paris, just minutes before the new climate action deal was officially approved by 196 nations.
Leem, who is attending the United World College Robert Bosch school in Germany, attended a week of the Climate Summit where she shadowed Foreign Minister Tony deBrum as part of the official RMI delegation.
DeBrum spoke briefly to the huge meeting hall that was packed with over a thousand delegates, concluding his remarks by saying: “In adopting the Paris Agreement, all 196 countries in this room have joined the High Ambition Coalition. We have together grasped this once in a generation opportunity to lay the foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and safe planet for our children.” He then introduced Leem to speak.
Leem spoke about the message her grandfather gave her about the future. “He told me about how the earth was warming,” she said. “He would say to me the ice in the North Pole and South Pole where Santa lives will all soon melt and as they melt, the water will rise and soon flood our islands. We used to have king tides annually, but he said they will become stronger and larger and more frequent. And he was telling the truth.”
She added: “This agreement should be the turning point in our story; a turning point for all of us.”
A portion of Leem’s presentation is on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=or6OwYyqrwk
Read more about this in the December 18, 2015 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.