It was the kind of spotlight associated with a certain other young climate activist: A hall full of world leaders and a speaking slot preceding the secretary general of the United Nations.
The woman in the spotlight was not Greta Thunberg, but Txai Suruí, a 24-year-old Indigenous climate activist from Brazil, making her first appearance on the world stage. On the opening day of the global climate summit in Glasgow, she made an eloquent appeal drawing attention to the devastating deforestation of the Amazon.
“The Earth is speaking,” Ms. Suruí said. “She tells us that we have no more time.”
“The animals are disappearing,” she added. “The rivers are dying, and our plants don’t flower like they did before.”
Ms. Suruí told the heads of state in the audience that they were “closing your eyes to reality” and their timetables for reducing carbon emissions and scaling back the use of fossil fuels were inadequate.
“It’s not 2030 or 2050,” she said. “It’s now.”
Ms. Suruí’s speech at the summit came as organizers faced criticism for a notable omission from the program: Ms. Thunberg, who said that she had not been invited, but joined scores of protesters on Monday outside the conference hall.
Recalling to world leaders the murder of one of her childhood friends, who she said had tried to combat deforestation, Ms. Suruí said that she had witnessed the toll of climate change firsthand.
“Indigenous peoples are on the front line of the climate emergency,” she said. “We must be at the center of the decisions happening here.”
Ms. Suruí said that her father, a tribal chief, had taught her “we must listen to the stars, the moon, the wind, the animals and the trees.”