COP26 speech by Vinisha Umashankar: Earthshot Prize finalist, 15, tells world leaders that young people have 'every reason to be angry'

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A 15-year-old girl from India, backed by Prince William, has told world leaders that young people have "every reason" to be "angry and frustrated at leaders who've made empty promises and failed to deliver".

Vinisha Umashankar received a standing ovation from the likes of Prime Minister Boris Johnson after giving the powerful speech at COP26 in Glasgow on Tuesday.

As one of the finalists of the Earthshot Prize, she was invited by Prince William to speak at a meeting discussing clean technology and innovation at the climate conference.

During her speech, she appealed to leaders to realise how her generation "will live to see the consequences" of their actions at the landmark summit.

She added: "Yet none of what we discuss today is practical for me. You are deciding whether or not we've a chance to live in a habitable world.

"You are deciding whether or not we are worth fighting for; worth supporting and worth caring."

Mr Johnson, US President Joe Biden, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the event and watched on as Vinisha aired her frustration at the lack of international progress on climate.

She said: "Many of my generation are angry and frustrated at leaders who've made empty promises and failed to deliver.

"And we have every reason to be angry. But I've no time for anger. I want to act.

"I'm not just a girl from India. I'm a girl from Earth. And I'm proud to be so.

"I'm a student, innovator, environmentalist and entrepreneur but most importantly, I'm an optimist. Today I ask, with all due respect, that we stop talking and start doing".

Vinisha has been recognised by the Duke of Cambridge for her concept for a solar-powered ironing cart to cut coal usage in India - a project she began working on when she was aged 12.

In India, many people don't have irons in their homes and instead take their clothes to be ironed by street vendors. It's estimated there are over 10 million ironing carts, which use coal, in the country alone.

Vinisha's solar-powered cart offers a coal-free alternative and the idea could also be used for other kinds of street vending across the world.

Speaking to Sky News after the event, she said: "[My generation] wants to tell world leaders what they need to do to support us because we are the future… that's the whole message I wanted to deliver [in my speech]."

While Vinisha said she followed Greta Thunberg's work, she said: "She is an activist, I am an innovator and there is more than enough room for both".

The Earthshot Prize is Prince William's £50m prize fund aimed at injecting some optimism into the climate debate by finding solutions to some or the world's most pressing global environmental problems.

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In his own opportunity to address the leaders, he said: "I hope our finalists have given you cause for optimism.

"They represent a growing wave of innovators, dedicating their time and talent to finding solutions to repair our planet.

"Today, I'm asking you to create the conditions in which they can thrive, and their ideas can scale."

For full coverage of COP26 watch Climate Live on Sky channel 525.

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