Mock COP: Inspiring action and hope at times of uncertainty

In categories:  Published by:  Shreya K.C. (Staff)

Young people gathered at Mock COP26 to showcase what progressive action would look like if young people ran the COP all by themselves!


Why Mock COP?

When COP26 was postponed in 2020 due to covid pandemic, young people all over the world came together to organize a global event called Mock COP26 to raise ambition on climate action, and show world leaders what kind of progressive action would happen if young people ran the COP, all by themselves. We brought young people from all over the world together to hear from each other, high-level and expert speakers, provided space to ask their questions, and ultimately, created powerful asks, all shaped by the youth delegates also known as the Global Mock COP treaty. 

Following the event, we supported delegates in lobbying the politicians of their nation, to adopt the demands of the Mock COP treaty, stop delaying, and face the climate emergency. 

Mock COP Treaty: The six themes of the treaty were climate education, climate justice, health and mental health, green jobs, nationally determined contributions, and biodiversity. Over 100 delegations made high-level statements covering these topics and providing powerful testimony for how global heating and the ecological crisis are already affecting them and their communities. A series of panel debates and regional caucuses led to the development of 20 policies, covering all six themes. 18 of the policies were passed by delegates and it is these policies that form the basis of the Mock COP26 treaty, written by a team of lawyers, led by ClientEarth. The treaty calls on political leaders in every country to implement the policies in the year COP26, to avoid us having lost a year of climate action. 

The team:

In August 2020 students involved in Teach the Future decided to run Mock COP26 in place of the postponed COP26, filling the void with progressive action and showing world leaders how to deliver a truly ambitious, inclusive, and low-carbon COP. Mock COP26 was run entirely online from 18 November- 1 December, resulting in just c14 tonnes of CO2 emissions, compared to c40,000 tonnes from previous COPs. 

237 (72%) delegates were from the Global South and 93 (28%) from the Global North. 63% of delegates were female or non-binary and delegates were aged 11 to 30, with the average age being 22 years old. The event was managed by 18 part-time student staff Event Coordinators which comprised a 50% Global North / Global South split, with 73% of the student staff being female or non-binary from six continents. They were supported by four permanent staff at SOS-UK and 196 volunteer students from 52 countries. 


The conference was designed to be more inclusive compared to a usual COP, with a greater emphasis on the countries most affected by the climate emergency. The countries from the global south were provided more time to speak and were allowed to have five delegates each, as opposed to three per country in the global north. This arrangement provided more influence in decision-making for the delegates of the global south countries. 

Before the conference: 

We opened a delegate application form for young people globally to apply and based on the number of applications received, we selected two to four delegates from each country. We provided them with a resource pack that contained all the essential information, including the event’s purpose, their role as a delegate, session timings, and contact emails for support. We also shared the code of conduct to ensure that all delegates adhere to the same ethical standards. 

We then shared consent and accessibility forms with the selected delegates in order to obtain the necessary information to make the Mock COP conference accessible to everyone and to obtain the necessary consent required for their participation. We assured them the information provided will be stored securely, and treated confidentially, with limited access only to selected individuals in the organizing team. 

To support the delegates in attending the conference and preparing their country’s high-level statement, we hosted drop-in calls between 2nd-19th November at different time zones. The calls also allowed delegates to ask any questions they may have. On the consent form, they were asked to select which calls they might like to attend and the zoom links for the sessions were sent accordingly and in advance. Delegates were free to attend none, one or more as per their convenience. 

Role of the delegates:

The delegate’s primary responsibility was to attend the event and to make it accessible to all, all sessions were recorded and uploaded to Youtube for them to watch at their convenience. During the first week, the delegates listened to guest speakers, the opening ceremony, and panel discussions, which provided them with ideas and inspiration for the second week’s policy discussions. In the second week, they presented the high-level statement that they and their fellow country delegates created. One or all delegates from each country recorded the statement, which was approximately three minutes long and publicly released on Wednesday, November 25th.

After presenting their statements, the delegates were required to watch the high-level statements of other countries to prepare for their caucus, where they came together with delegates from similar time zones. During the caucus, they shared their ideas and plans to tackle the climate crisis, and created a statement based on their final policy ideas. The delegates had a rest day to catch up on recorded content. Once the staff compiled all caucus statements, they held a vote on the final Mock COP26 global statement.

During the conference 

In the consent form provided, delegates were asked to provide their available times for the timezone caucuses, which was the only live element of the event. All other sessions were recorded and made available on our YouTube channel, and for some, like speaker videos, there was no live component at all. The opening ceremony, closing ceremony, and three timezone caucuses were held on Zoom. Details on how to join these calls were sent to delegates via email closer to the event date.

Delegates received daily emails from us outlining the day’s activities and how they could participate. Updates and reminders were also posted on a common Telegram channel for those who preferred it over email.

Access to Zoom calls required internet access, but we provided dial-in codes to those who needed them and requested it through the accessibility form. After the event, we collected feedback from the delegates and discussed how to continue with legacy work and bring our outcomes to COP26 in Glasgow in 2021.

Input into the Mock COP26 global statement

During the conference, the delegates were able to share policy ideas through PigeonHole, and vote on the ideas they support. The organizing team then collected all of the policy ideas submitted, and in the timezone caucuses held on November 27th and 28th, the delegates had the opportunity to discuss and vote on which policies to include in the final global statement.

Mock COP26 sends a strong message to world leaders that young people can coordinate global negotiations and we have the solutions. Now is the time for us to have a seat at the table.”

– Suphane Dash-Alleyne, a delegate from Guyana, South America


Support to the delegates:

  • Translations: We assigned translators to the event based on the languages the delegates indicated they could speak on their consent forms. This was done to make the event more accessible. Additionally, transcriptions and captions were provided on videos whenever possible. 
  • Peer support: We ensured that the delegates were connected with a community of over 350 other participants from 140+ countries by adding them to the communication platform, Slack. We suggested that they use Slack for all their communication as it is transparent and easily accessible, but they could use other platforms if agreed upon by other delegates. Additionally, we encouraged them to offer each other support and motivation throughout the event.
  • Staff support: To get a prompt response and allow others to view their queries, we suggested that delegates post their questions on the appropriate Slack channels. However, if they have a personalized or confidential inquiry, they can send a direct message to one of the paid Event Coordinators who are supporting the delegates on Slack. If they are not on Slack, they can also send an email. The list of these staff members, who will offer additional guidance and assistance before and during the event, was provided to them. 
  • Academic support: Academics from various disciplines and countries also joined the Slack platform to support the event. They offered fact-checking services and provided advice and knowledge when requested by the delegates. This helped to ensure that the claims made by delegates during the event were scientifically sound and viable both economically and legally.
  • Resources: To support the delegates, we gathered videos, and articles, and prepared detailed support documents which they were encouraged to review at their own pace. If there were specific resources they needed, they could request them by posting in the #ask-a-question channel in Slack.

Welfare and safety of delegates 

Ensuring the safety and well-being of our delegates was a top priority for us. We offered all delegates the option to remain anonymous in order to protect their safety. If they choose to do so, we provided them with a random number that they can use instead of their real name when using Slack or Zoom, so that they can be identified by Mock COP26 organizers but not by anyone else. In case they require any support, we advised them to reach out to two of our staff. If they choose to remain anonymous, we recommended that they do not announce their participation on social media, and join Zoom calls without their real name, with the video turned off, and without a display picture that includes their face. Taking screenshots during calls was not permitted, as some delegates didn’t consent to photos. We also encouraged delegates to prioritize their own well-being and safety over participating in Mock COP26 and to follow the Delegate Code of Conduct which they agreed to on the consent form.

Media coverage: 

Greenhouse PR helped us reach over 100m people through broadcast interviews in over 40 countries, including this 4-minute piece on C4 news. In addition to filling the void left by the postponed COP and demonstrating how to run an inclusive COP, we showed that young people can do more than just strike, they can develop progressive and ambitious policies, and we created a global movement of young climate activists focused on policy. We also built a good relationship with the COP26 team. 

After the conference:

The first stage of Mock COP was focused on organizing the conference and concluded in 2020. The second phase started in 2021 and aimed to facilitate the implementation of the Mock COP26 treaty, either partially or entirely, by national governments or domestic states. We supported the delegates and young climate activists in engaging with their elected representatives and running domestic campaigns on the treaty asks leading up to COP26 and beyond. 

The third phase started in 2022 and focused on climate education, with the aim that governments worldwide will produce meaningful commitments towards this at COP27.

Read the full declaration here: 

For more information contact us:

Written by: Shreya K.C. with the support of Zoe Arnold