I have never been more sure that if we stand together, we will not be divided.
“If you won’t include us in the conversation properly, we’ll start the conversation ourselves.”
It is evident, from the postponement and non-virtualisation of COP26 this year, that climate action sits solidly at the bottom of any government to-do list.
Leaders may try to deny it by bringing up their ‘ambitious’ 2050 emissions targets, but these targets, in reality, are far from the ambitious and progressive action that is needed to actively combat the climate crisis.
For too long governments have pushed climate change down the ladder of priorities, for too long governments have ignored the voices of the youth, and for too long governments have dismissed the already vulnerable communities that the climate emergency will affect the most.
This is what Mock COP26 - an online alternative to COP26 run for the youth, by the youth - initially aimed to change, by setting a precedent for climate action ahead of next year’s Conference of the Parties in a way that was non-performative and meaningful.
Now, it has evolved into an inclusive, global community of youth which lifts up and amplifies marginalised voices so that everyone has an equal and valued seat at the (virtual) table.
We started out in July with no idea what Mock COP26 would become, but with the hope that we could grow into something bigger than ourselves.
Looking back on it now, Mock COP26 has been everything we could have wished for and more - it has given 350 young people from across 140 countries the chance to unite in a time of crisis, the chance to fight for something that means more than just short-term fixes, and the chance to change the world.
We the youth are the ones who will inherit the consequences of whatever decisions global leaders make right now, and we are tired of governments making empty promises and not treating this crisis as a crisis.
This is why we wrote and released the Mock COP26 treaty, with the hope that, at last, leaders would finally take notice, and put into practice, what we have been asking for – real, impactful climate action.
It is a call, a plea, for action that will save both our future and our present.
The treaty is written in a way that is accessible for all - including the youth, politicians, and lawyers – and the policies are designed to be adopted into legislation in countries across the world.
It takes into account the needs of both developed and developing countries with specific emphasis on the disproportionate effects of climate change on the Global South, and covers six core themes: climate justice, climate education, health and wellbeing, green jobs, biodiversity, and NDCs.
Policies outlined in the treaty are inclusive, and all were voted through by the 350 delegates from the Global North and South alike.
For me, the Mock COP26 treaty signifies the collective power of young people’s voices - and I hope it sparks a new era of ambitious climate action. The youth have spoken.
The reality of the climate crisis is alarming, and we cannot afford to wait any longer to create change.
Mock COP26 has been so much more than just a two-week conference; it has been a huge learning experience, a time of hope, and most importantly, a message to world leaders and the rest of the global community that young people will not be ignored.
Going into 2021, and looking toward COP26, I want people to realise the power that every one of us holds. Mock COP26 has shown me if we grasp that power with two hands, then we really do have the ability to move mountains.
I know there will be times when I will be stressed, tired, and more than a bit nervous about what the future holds for climate action, but I have never been more sure that if we stand together, we will not be divided.
Jodie Bailey-Ho, 16, is a Mock Cop26 UK organiser.