COP25 was not ambitious. Following the event, UN Secretary-General António Guterres tweeted that he was “disappointed” with the results of the conference and that “the international community lost an important opportunity to show increased ambition on mitigation, adaptation & finance to tackle the climate crisis.” The hashtag #TimeForAction was plastered across the conference centre, but there was no ‘action’ to be found: no consensus was reached on many issues, and a great number of important decisions were pushed into the agenda for the 2020 conference, which has now been postponed. The urgency with which we have rightly seen COVID-19 be treated has in no way been mirrored in the response to the Climate Emergency, a crisis that is already causing suffering across the world, and without action will cause the death of millions.
So, while the postponement of COP26 this year is disappointing, it also provides an opportunity for young people to show how the conference should be held. It gives an opportunity for young activists to platform the voices that should be heard: of young people, and of Global South and Indigenous communities. It gives us the opportunity to empower youth from across the world to demand meaningful action from their leaders and representatives at COP26; to demand that those with power treat a crisis like a crisis.
Mock COP26 is a youth-run event mirroring the process of COP: between three and five young people from countries 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. We will prioritise the voices of underrepresented communities, and ensure that those whose experiences and perspectives need to be heard the most in the conversation around climate change are given a platform. We will hear from leading climate scientists, ecosystem experts, economists, agronomists, health professionals, sustainable and circular businesses, global celebrities and world leaders: we will trust the science and raise ambition to act accordingly. We will produce a powerful and realistic statement, from young people around the world, and aim to use this as a tool to make COP26, in 2021, the conference that it needs to be.
We will show the world what would happen if young people ran COP26.
Young people are both the future and the present. It is not just future generations that will feel the effects of how we respond to this crisis, but people living across the world right now. This year, with Mock COP26, it truly is Time for Action.