'Stop Talking and Start Doing': Teen From TN Lauded for Powerful Speech at COP26

Vinisha is one of the finalists of the Earthshot Prize, an environmentalism contest founded by Prince William.

Climate Change
2 min read

"I am not here to talk about the future. I am the future."

These are the words of Vinisha Umashankar, a 14-year-old girl from Tamil Nadu, whose speech at the COP26 in Glasgow has been winning the hearts and minds of many around the world.

She started her speech by saying she will be 94-years-old by the year 2100 and that her generation will live to see the consequences of the actions of world leaders today, further highlighting that her generation is "angry and frustrated at world leaders who've made empty promises" and made a direct call to action to save the planet.

Vinisha is a student and one of the finalists of the Earthshot Prize, an environmentalism contest founded by The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, which is a charity supported by Prince William and his wife Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge.

For her innovative project that invented the solar powered ironing cart, Vinisha was invited by Prince William to speak about clean technology at the COP 26.

In India, the popular practice for ironing clothes involves using irons that use heat derived from burning charcoal. What Vinisha did was find a way to use sunlight to do charcoal's job, thereby, preventing carbon dioxide emissions. She invented a way for sunlight to power a steam ironing box with which clothes could be ironed.

Included in Vinisha's passionate speech was a call to world leaders to support clean energy projects.

"Today I ask, with all due respect, that we stop talking and start doing. We, The Earthshot Prize Winners and Finalists, need you to back our innovations, projects and solutions, not an economy built on fossil fuels, smoke and pollution. We need to stop thinking about old debates because we need a new vision for a new future. So you need to invest your time, money and effort in us to shape our future!"

Her parents, S Umashankar, a business consultant, and U Sangeetha, a school teacher, watched Vinisha's speech among the audience in Glasgow.

Pratibha Shyam, Vinisha's school principal at S.K.P. Vanitha International School told The Hindu that she "is [a] class topper and her time management between studies and extracurricular activities is excellent."

(With inputs from Earthshot Prize and The Hindu)

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