From viewership to leadership: My Race to Zero story

By Karim Ehab Salah, Race to Zero Youth Fellow | December 12, 2023

My journey in climate activism started with a transformative moment in 2016 when I watched Leonardo DiCaprio’s documentary, “Before the Flood.” Little did I know that this initial spark would lead me to the global stage, delivering a closing keynote speech at COP27 in 2022, and sharing panels with world leaders. From a viewer inspired by DiCaprio’s impassioned plea, to a key player in the fight against climate change, and contributing to the Race to Zero campaign, my journey is a testament to the power of personal conviction and the impact one individual can have on the world stage.

My introduction to the work of the Climate Champions Team and the Race to Zero campaign was through Nigel Topping, UN Climate Change High-Level  Champion for COP26. Inspired by Topping’s dedication, I decided to become part of the campaign through the Climate Champions’ Youth Fellowship program. This connection became the catalyst for my involvement in the Race to Zero team.

I am fortunate to play a key role within the Race to Zero, with responsibilities including ensuring regional representation and helping foster a fair, equitable, and just transition for the Global South. Over the past few months, our team has developed a regionalization strategy and detailed plans for LAC, MENA, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. Regionalization and fair share, equity, and justice, are key solutions to accelerating our race to a healither, fairer and more resilient world.

One way to  implement this is to move from voluntary action to policy frameworks. Drawing lessons from the Paris Agreement, I believe that voluntary commitments alone are insufficient for the global sytems transformation we need. I advocate for policy and regulation to incentivize private sector climate action, something which is now an integral part of the Race to Zero, particularly with the launch of the 5th P handbook earlier this year.

I  believe that the fact that COPs  rotate around the world is  a critical part of regionalizingclimate action. I believe that achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement requires more than just country commitments. In the modern world, Non-State Actors represent the real economy, and the Race to Zero campaign showcases how the private sector not only supports but leads the green transition.

Looking ahead in hopes for the future, I believe in the power of outh as catalysts for change, I hope the Race to Zero continues to lead global climate action, and impactful representation continues in all regions.I place my faith in the youth, recognizing them as leaders not just of today but of our future, and the driving force behind meaningful change.

Individuals should be empowered to be changemakers  and not be affraid to take bold action I end with one of my favourite quotes, from Mother Teresa: “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone through the water that creates many ripples.” I encourage the youth to recognize their power to make a difference, inviting them to join the Race to Zero and start their own ripples of change.


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