Mock COP26 has been in the news lately. Various platforms featured Mock COP 26 youth organizers, volunteers, and delegates. . We’ve been in more than 50 features – BBC, CBC Radio, NPR, and regional news bulletins around the world. We’re also in more than 250 national, regional, and trade online articles. Apart from the BBC, international coverage includes CNN, Global Citizen, Share Radio, and Thomson Reuters. Josh with Mitzi Jonelle Tan and Lavinia Iovino were also featured in a story from The Guardian about Mock COP26 and its importance on the global stage. Another organizer, Kevin Mtai, was one of the climate activists interviewed in the environmental online magazine Grist about his thoughts on the US election and Joe Biden’s plans on the Green Deal. Keeping an active social media and online presence has been one of the key ways Mock COP26 became more known.

But why?

Why do we need to tell people? It is because of the progressing climate crisis that caused the suffering in the Global South. With little to no progress in the administration of climate-friendly initiatives during last year’s COP25 in Spain, Mock COP26 is a ray of hope for these people. Mock COP26 is a 2-week online global conference on climate change that mirrors the real COP. Youth delegates from around the world are voicing out environmental concerns on climate justice, climate education, green jobs, and national carbon commitments. 

My commitment to climate activism is still fresh and young. I have just recently made up my mind to join climate and environmental volunteering initiatives, and sign petitions. As a volunteer for Mock COP26, I am surrounded by young people from different places who share the same love for the planet. This made me realize how empowering the voice of the youth is. No matter where we come from, no matter how old we are, our collective voices can definitely make a change.

Also, I made lots of friends.

Living in the Philippines means experiencing a lot of natural disasters. I have experienced so many typhoons that are destructive especially to our small island municipality. I will never forget Typhoon Nona (international name Melor) which made its fourth landfall in our municipality. It heavily destroyed agriculture, especially coconut trees and banana plantations. Houses were damaged, families were sent to evacuation centers, and a man died after he was hit by a blown off iron roof. 

I can still remember the eye of a storm.

Classes were suspended before the typhoon. When we returned to our barangay (village), we were abruptly sent to evacuation centers – where we spent the night while our municipality battled with Typhoon Nona until dawn. The next morning, I returned to our house with some of my cousins, who are also my neighbors, to get clothes and food supplies. What we didn’t know was that the typhoon was not over and our island was just under its eye. After an hour of clear skies, the winds and heavy rains struck again, trapping us inside our house for two hours. We were just a bunch of young people there. I was a scared 14 years old back then. My father and my older brother were in their jobs in other provinces, while my mother was at a teacher’s conference. It was the scariest that I felt in a typhoon. 

Now, I am a sophomore student at my university and I am doing my best to support climate initiatives but that memory still haunts me. During this quarantine, I had a complete change of heart. I promised myself that I’d be an advocate for climate action. It is disheartening to imagine the lives taken by the adverse effects of climate change. 2020’s strongest typhoon on Earth just recently hit my country, the Philippines (Super Typhoon Rolly; international name Goni). 

In less than one month, my country had 6 storms!

Rolly alone caused 17.9 billion pesos of damage and claimed at least 25 lives. The adverse effects of typhoons Quinta, Rolly, and Ulysses brought severe devastations to Luzon, which is the main and largest island group in the country. What more extreme disasters can this country face? Global leaders sleep on the climate crisis while children get literally washed away by flash floods and forced to be on top of their roofs in the middle of a rainy night as waters continue to rise. Imagine their fatigue, helplessness, anxiety, and hunger for hours while desperately trying to stay alive and waiting every second for rescue to arrive.

A devastated Bicol region with houses half-buried from lahar when strong waters carried it from Mount Mayon (Philippines). Photo from Jonathan Ivan Rivera.

My country, the Philippines, is struggling. We don’t want more floods that rise up to 15 feet, winds that peel off roofs in seconds, the rain that drowns our pets and livestock, and storm surges that ravage coastal communities. We don’t want more people to die. We’re still a developing country that contributes so little to global carbon emissions yet we face the worst of its consequences. This is absurd! 

This is why Mock COP26 is important.

Mock COP26 amplifies the voices of the least marginalized groups and youth from MAPA or the Global South because we want accountability. We demand accountability from top carbon emitters like the USA, China, and the EU. Also, accountability from oil giants like Chevron, Shell, BP, and Exxon for their abusive exploitation of the planet’s oil resources while constantly contributing to ocean spills and the burning of fossil fuels. We demand concrete action, not mere promises. It’s time for our leaders to wake up, prioritize the realization of the Green Deal, and cut carbon emissions. 

We won’t have more time to alter the effects of the climate crisis if we let this opportunity pass. The clock is ticking. The time for action is NOW. 

 

Written by Angelo, volunteer
Edited by Chrisna, 23
Philippines