angry at sluggish climate action, young negotiators ‘shout’ for change

Youth-led “Mock COP26” aims to stop pressure for action on UN climate talks delayed by a year

LONDON, Nov. 19 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Young activists said on Thursday they did not understand why political leaders could not understand the seriousness of the climate crisis and were responding with the same urgency as the coronvirus pandemic, which starts online two weeks ago discussions.

During the talks – instead of the virus-delayed climate summit COP26 UN – youth representatives from 142 countries will consider potential climate solutions and issue a legal statement with recommendations that can contribute to national policies.

“If you can not make the changes we want to make, we can do it and we do not need your help. We have the ability,” Sonali, an Indian youth activist with just one name, told the opening of the “Mock COP26” talks, arranged by the delegates themselves.

The discussions come as youth activists struggled to maintain the momentum they built in 2019, when Swedish teenage climate campaigner Greta Thunberg and millions of others around the world took to the streets to demand climate action, prompting promises of faster progress with climate threats.

Alok Sharma, the British Secretary of State for the Environment and President of COP26, which will take place in Glasgow this November, urged the delegates to “keep up the momentum, keep showing us what is possible, keep pleading for climate action in your home countries “.

Such ‘extremely necessary’ pressure will make it easier to cut more ambitious commitments to carbon, he said in a video speech on the talks.

Jayathma Wickramanayake, a 29-year-old Sri Lankan envoy to the UN Secretary-General for Youth, said that although the UN climate talks had been postponed, ‘the climate crisis could not be postponed. It remains an ‘urgent crisis’.

Youth organizers of the talks said they particularly hoped in the discussions to educate young people on climate change and policy options, and to paint a clear picture of the extent of the global threat through their own personal stories of delegates.

Licypriya Kangujam, a 9-year-old Indian climate activist, spoke about the growing forest fires in Australia, California, Siberia and the Amazon that left her sleepless over the deaths of millions of trees and animals.

Communities around the world have also suffered this year from worsening hurricanes and typhoons, locust plagues, air pollution, rising seas and heat waves that kill the poorest, she said, calling such effects ‘the real effect of climate change’.

Phoebe Hanson, a British organizer of the talks, said young people’s efforts to curb climate-changing emissions were difficult to understand in the light of clear evidence of growing threats, especially to younger generations.

“The fact that our governments and leaders and decision makers cannot show leadership on this issue is heartbreaking as a young person because it shows that they do not care about us,” she said at the opening of the event.

“This emergency is not enough for them to act constructively and work across borders, just as they did with COVID-19,” she said, leaving young people to ‘fill the void’. .

‘NOT A TICK-BOX’

In an opening statement, the activists said that the world too often turned to young people as a symbol of hope – but without following up on ‘concrete change’.

“This event is a scream of young people around the world. We want change. We want a livable world, just like future generations. The time to … put our plans into practice is now,” he said. he said.

Hanson said young activists in particular want to go beyond ‘just a photo opportunity or a block for youth representation’ in events, but that policymakers ‘should actually listen to what we have to say’.

“We hope that by holding Mock COP26 we will prove that we have the knowledge, that we have the skills and that we have the passion to make a meaningful contribution to these discussions and to contribute to the solutions,” she said. said.

The organizers have said they plan to submit the final negotiated statement to Nigel Topping, the British high-level climate action champion for COP26, on 1 December.

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