This blog chronicles our impactful presence at COP28, from engaging with youth advocates worldwide to addressing climate education and justice issues. It reflects on both positive outcomes and areas where greater action is still needed.
On December 3 at Expo City Dubai, we hosted the “Youth Advocating at Local, National, and International Levels” event in the Green Zone of COP28. We connected with Mock COPpers worldwide, discussing their impactful initiatives since Mock COP’s inception in 2020, including the Mock Education Ministers Summit, grassroots projects, and the 1.5 Degrees campaign. We followed this up with a team discussion to strategize for the week ahead.
When exploring the vast venue, we stumbled upon a decisive action sharing solidarity, calling for a ceasefire and an end to the occupation in Palestine. In response to the pervasive influence of the fossil fuel industry at COP28, we also participated in a Conflict of Interest protest, highlighting the infiltration of at least 2,456 fossil fuel lobbyists—four times the number at COP27.
Throughout the week, we showcased our work at various events and organized our sessions, discussing justice-centered Climate Education pathways in research, policy, and implementation. The insights shared by panelists were a testament to the power of youth in shaping the climate education narrative. Furthermore, we spoke at events addressing the interconnections between the climate crisis and human rights! We leveraged our access to COP28 to advocate for climate justice through meetings with the Environmental Minister of India and the Just Transition Minister of Scotland.
On December 7, our team enjoyed a well-deserved rest day, exploring Dubai and appreciating the natural beauty of the UAE deserts. Sponsored by the Khemka Foundation and hosted by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), we conducted an interactive workshop on climate and education justice, delving into historical and present injustices rooted in the climate crisis.
The ‘Youth and Education Day’ on December 8th was pivotal for us. Our team actively engaged in various activities, with a notable event being the “Education Ministers and Youth Raising Ambition for Climate Education” discussion at the ReWirED Summit. Notable guests, including Baroness Barran and HE Nura Mustaf, joined our Campaign Coordinators, Shreya and Sofia, and Youth Focal Point for Sustainability and Climate Justice, Will Wale, in a compelling dialogue on climate education. On the same day, we stood in solidarity with the wider civil society by wearing black, highlighting our commitment to fossil fuel phase-out and financing for loss and damage. Youth Day exemplified the strength of collective youth voices.
The day concluded with a networking dinner hosted by Baroness Barran, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Education. Discussions about the future of climate education resonated with our year-long efforts. As we said our goodbyes, reflecting on our journey at COP28, we felt proud of the impact we achieved, with some team members heading home that very night.
COP28 began optimistically by establishing the Loss and Damage Fund on day 1, offering financial reparations to the least-emitting but most impacted countries. However, frustration arose as the fund remained voluntary, and its disbursement method (loans or grants) remained unclear. The $700 million pledged covered less than 0.2% of the trillions needed for the most vulnerable communities. The climate adaptation fund must be more robust, burdening vulnerable communities with future losses and damages.
Despite the need for funding in climate education, ACE negotiations concluded without a financial agreement, postponing the discussion to June 2024. Yet, positive initiatives – notably the BRACE fund- marked the first significant financial pledge in the education sector. The GCF, GPE, and Save the Children jointly launched a US$70 million investment for climate-resilient schools in vulnerable countries. We were pleased to see the signing the health declaration by over 120 countries.
Leaving Dubai, negotiations were ongoing. Despite the potential for COP28 to agree on an equitable fossil fuel phase-out, the final decision favored a ‘transition away from fossil fuels’. With loopholes exploitable by the fossil fuel industry, this decision blatantly values the lives of some over others, particularly those within Small Island and Developing States.
COP28 was a whirlwind of moments, inspiring and disappointing alike, as our Mock COP campaign coordinators and SOS-UK staff immersed themselves in the global conversation on global climate justice. Throughout the event, connections were fostered, old friendships renewed, and new alliances forged. Crucially, we envisioned a future of climate justice, resisting the marginalization of youth in the global climate dialogue. Departing with the strength of unity, we remain committed to continuing the fight for a joyful, livable future.
Written by Amit Singh and David Okenwa, Campaign Coordinators of Mock COP