The Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is the big annual global event where countries of the world come together to progress collective action on climate change. COP26 is the 26th meeting, due to be hosted in Glasgow, Scotland in November 2020 but delayed by a year due to COVID-19. COP21, held in Paris, was seen as a pivotal moment for the climate movement, resulting in the Paris Agreement - a huge milestone in stepping up international action for climate change - but many of the COPs, both before and since, have been criticised by young people as missed opportunities and unambitious. Many young people accuse industrialised countries, individuals with vested interests and corporate lobbyists of watering down COP commitments every year for domestic or personal gain. The youth strike movement is partly a response to these selfish interests and the lack of agreed global ambition and urgency.
Whilst the postponement is disappointing, it inadvertently provides an amazing opportunity to show the world what would happen if young people ran the COP, whilst also equipping and empowering youth around the world to engage their political leaders in COP26.
Our Mock COP will be run by young people and students involved in climate activism, supported by adults from youth-led organisations. Between three and five young people from countries all around the world will act as their country’s delegates and attend the two-week inclusive online event for 3 to 4 hours a day. There will be a special effort to ensure that students from the Global South, and marginalised voices, are represented and heard.
Each country’s delegation would make a two-minute high-level speech representing the views of young people from the countries they represent. We will look to reallocate time to amplify the voices of underrepresented people. A small number of leading and supportive climate scientists, ecosystem experts, economists, agronomists, health professionals, sustainable and circular businesses, global celebrities and world leaders will be invited to present so the conference is well-informed ahead of facilitated break-out and working groups. The focus will be on speakers from the Global South and marginalised groups. There will be regional caucuses to help counter time zone differences, and experts will be on hand to answer questions throughout the conference. Some of the content will be broadcast or recorded for dissemination, and there will be live discussions through #mockcop26.
The conference will culminate in a powerful but realistic statement and vision by the young people from around the world which would serve to raise ambition for COP26 in November 2021. The statement will be in two parts:
Following the Mock COP, our delegates will be supported by project staff to engage their own political and COP26 delegates in the outcomes of Mock COP over the year to November 2021.
The five suggested themes of the Mock COP are:
All of the above will be shaped by the students on our Slack group.