"Prove Us Wrong": A Roundup of Some of the Best Speeches at COP26

Activists challenge world leaders to act to halt the climate crisis


November 13, 2021


Vanessa Nakate, a climate activist from Uganda, at the UN Climate Change Conference COP26. | Photo by Christoph Soeder/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP26, has officially drawn to a close. In just under two weeks, leaders from all around the world, many of whom flew to Glasgow in private jets, acknowledged the climate crisis we are in and affirmed that working together is key to preserving the world as we know it. 

But climate activists are used to fluffy words and empty promises that serve the fossil fuel industry more than the planet. Case in point: There were more fossil fuel industry delegates at COP26 than from any single country—with over 500 delegates. 

Even so, there were plenty of inspiring and evocative speeches along the way. Speakers such as Ugandan youth activist Vanessa Nakate and Amazonian Indigenous activist Txai Suruí shared stories of how their community is already being impacted by climate change. “It’s not 2030 or 2050,” Suruí said. “It’s now.”

Here are just a few of the best COP26 speeches from climate activists and leaders whose calls for action went viral.



 Vanessa Nakate, Ugandan climate activist, at Youth4Climate Pre-COP26


 Nisreen Elsaim, UN Secretary-General's Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change 


 David Attenborough, natural historian and broadcaster


Mia Mottley, prime minister of Barbados


 Brianna Fruean, Pacific climate activist


 Txai Suruí, Amazonian activist


 Surangel Whipps Jr, president of Palau


 Vinisha Umashankar, Earthshot Prize finalist


Elizabeth Wathuti, youth climate activist, Kenya


Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, Indigenous activist


Vanessa Nakate, Ugandan climate activist