Phoebe L. Hanson is a 20-year-old activist from the United Kingdom, you must have seen her doing an amazing speech at COP26. She is a Politics student at Lancaster University, which is a really empowering course for her.
Her mother is a teacher and due to that Phoebe grew up surrounded by books, teachers and classmates. It made her passionate about education and think about how people need and deserve to really know the world they live in. In her perspective, kids should learn how the regular subjects apply to their life. It is definitively valid for climate change. Every day children learn geography for exams, but they do not know how the extreme events that we face today are related to geographic phenomena, they do not know how the biological dynamic of our world is changing in regard to global warming.
Phoebe really began to approach the activist practice during the pandemic. From her home she started looking for things to do in her spare time and in active citizenship she found more than a hobby- she found a passion and a purpose. She got to know about Mock COP26 on the web and was interested in participating. She says that, in fact, she didn’t see herself as one of the project leaders, like Jamie Agombar, one of the adult staff at Mock COP, and that’s why she was very surprised to be invited by him to join the staff team.
Time passed, phase 2 of the Mock COP arrived, as well as COP26 itself, and Phoebe went to Glasgow to follow the event. Phoebe was chosen to take the stage at the COP, at an event for education and environment ministers Mock COP helped organise. She wrote her speech on her phone, climbed onto the podium and spoke.
She spoke, and that moment will be meaningful in her life for a long time. She says she was quite nervous, as she had never spoken to so many people. She had never been in front of so many people that she had dreamed of meeting before, people so far away that it was unthinkable for her that they would stop and listen. And why listen to her?
She says she felt partially represented in these conferences, in a way that other populations, especially the marginalized ones, are not, and that is why she was already somewhat satisfied. But after stepping down from the podium, she realized one thing: she was not truly represented. It’s not common to have normal people in these places.
Every time she tells this story, she remembers the reaction of the people around her. When she got home her mother hugged her and together they cried, she felt very proud of her daughter and felt represented by her. Many people felt that way. For the first time, many people saw themselves there. She saw that the opinion of common people must also be heard. That you don’t have to be a full-time activist, celebrity, or super expert to be heard. Just be you. And that’s empowerment. Being able to see that people feel reflected and capable of changing the world is empowerment.
Between smiles, she says that as she left the stage, Jamie Agombar gave her some water to drink and ministers came to take pictures and talk to her. She, who always saw herself represented for other people’s actions, was now there to act.
Thank you Phoebe for this great interview!