Nakeeyat Dramani Sam, 10, discusses sufferings in her country due to floods and asks rich nations, which have contributed most to climate crisis, to compensate developing countries for the damage.

"I put a simple question on the table," says Dramani Sam. "When can you pay us back? Because payment is overdue." (AP)

Ten-year-old Nakeeyat Dramani Sam has spoken during a plenary session with hundreds of delegates at the UN climate negotiations in Egypt with a soft voice and direct message cut through the dryness, a reminder to negotiators and everybody listening that decisions made at climate talks can have a direct impact on people.

Talking about suffering in Ghana due to flooding, she held up a sign on Friday that said, "Payment Overdue."

"I put a simple question on the table," she said. "When can you pay us back? Because payment is overdue."

Sam's speech didn't bother with the machinations of negotiations but rather had the kind of frankness and freshness that comes naturally to children.

She told the attendees that she had met with US Climate Envoy John Kerry earlier this week. Kerry had been nice, she said, and the meeting got her thinking about the future.

Her next sentence had humour in it, though she certainly didn't mean that.

"By the time I'm his age, God willing, it will be the end of this century," she said, implicitly saying, as kids often do about adults, that Kerry was old. Kerry is 78.

Shortly after that came a powerful and direct message.

Talking about how scientists say the world has less than a decade left to continue polluting at today's rates before the effects of global warming get much worse, Sam said: "Have a heart and do the math. It's an emergency."

When Sam finished speaking, she received a standing ovation.

"I also call for action that every child must plant a tree," she said, standing with her mother and aunt.

Children were the best people to deliver such messages, and she said this because they would be around to suffer the consequences of a warming planet.

"We are the future leaders, so when we talk people listen," she said. "I don't know about the adults because I'm not at their age."

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'Loss and damage' haggle

Many developing nations insist that rich countries, which have contributed most to the climate crisis because of high greenhouse emissions, compensate them for the damage.

In climate negotiations, the issue is called "loss and damage." It's a topic that produces a wide range of opinions and nuanced battle lines.

Developed nations like the United States have resisted such calls for compensation, not wanting to be on the hook for what could be an open-ended liability.

China, also a high-carbon emitting country, supports the idea of rich nations contributing to such payments but doesn't want to pay.

On Thursday, the European Union put forward a proposal to create a fund for loss and damage.

While the proposal gave negotiators something specific to chew on, it also likely deepened divisions.

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Source: AP