The faces of Cop26 climate change ambassadors hoping to influence everyday green habits have been disclosed, with litter-picking young triplets leading their number.
Eight-year-olds Mbetmi, Waimi and Yimi Fongue were selected as ‘One Step Greener’ emissaries after spending every Wednesday and Friday for the past two years picking up other people’s rubbish.
With the UN climate change conference in Glasgow just five weeks away, the pressure is growing to come to a worldwide agreement that will include keeping temperature increases within 1.5°C.
Beyond that commitment, in a video message broadcast today, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that he had four key targets to achieve: “Coal, cars, cash and trees.”
Mr Johnson wants all countries to stop the construction of coal power stations – one of the world's biggest polluters – to push for all cars going electric, $100 billion a year to help developing countries go carbon neutral and for millions more trees to be planted to tackle excess carbon dioxide.
It is hoped that the litter-conscious triplets will be among those who help to promote Mr Johnson’s message with their efforts in Nottingham motivating other children. “In helping your own community, you end up helping everyone,” said their mother, Esther Fongue.
They are joined by a British Olympic rower who failed to make the recent Tokyo Olympics owing to an injury sustained before the Games began.
“Athletes are these people who pursue long-term challenges, like winning an Olympic gold medal, but with urgency day to day,” Melissa Wilson said. “That’s so much how we could be approaching climate change.”
The rower is actively encouraging others sporting figures to become climate influencers. She also believes that senior politicians who will be involved in the Cop26 negotiations need to adopt an Olympic athlete’s endurance philosophy in planning for distant events.
Another ambassador is the recycling businesswoman Maria Antonieta Nestor, who helps families to recycle toys when they are broken or no longer wanted.
“I have made it my mission to help tackle climate change through reducing plastic waste,” said the owner of A Toy’s Life and Beyond. “I am proud to help play a part in creating a better world for my children and future generations. There are so many ways we can make a difference and go One Step Greener. I encourage everyone to play their part ahead of Cop26.”
In the announcement today, the Cop26 organisers said the ambassadors were “extraordinary, everyday people” who are taking action to stop climate change in their everyday lives.
Another ambassador, Siobhan McKenna, who founded the sustainable fashion business ReJean Denim, hopes that “some big important decisions are made” in her home city of Glasgow and “that this summit is actually fruitful”.
In total, 26 One Step Greener ambassadors will be appointed before the summit starts in November.
The Italian prime minister also called for G20 nations to commit to limiting global warming to 1.5°C
Mario Draghi, whose country is co-hosting Cop26 with Britain, was speaking at the Youth Climate Conference in Milan. He said he would be "pushing countries to honour their climate pledges and, in some cases, stand ready to make bolder ones".