Young activists from around the world are taking part in a virtual “Mock Cop26” climate talks to outline how they want leaders to act on the crisis.
The event involving more than 350 young delegates from 150 countries is taking place over the next two weeks in the absence of the Cop26 climate conference that was due to be held this month.
The key United Nations summit, set to take place in Glasgow, was delayed as a result of the pandemic until November 2021.
The youth-organised Mock Cop26 will mirror the process of the official summit, with each country’s delegation delivering a speech sharing the concerns of young people in their country and their vision for climate action.
They will also hear from leading climate scientists, economists and health professionals and will work towards producing a final collective statement outlining what leaders should agree to at Cop26, organisers said.
It will also address what young people should do in the absence of sufficient global ambition to tackle the climate crisis.
Delegates are also calling for young people to be part of every Cop26 country delegation so their views are heard.
As part of efforts to prioritise marginalised voices and those most affected by the climate crisis, countries from the global south – or developing countries – have been granted more young delegates and speaking time than those from developed countries, organisers said.
Jodie Bailey-Ho, 16, a climate activist from Harlow, Essex, is one of the organisers.
They said: “I believe that the youth voice is fundamentally important, and yet governments consistently do not give us a meaningful seat at the table when it comes to decision-making about our future.
“Our experiences as young people are constantly brushed aside, despite being one of the most powerful tools when it comes to bringing about change.
“Mock Cop26 gives young people a chance to become valuable voices in the conversation, and actively participate in discussions about climate. Instead of being shut down, we are lifted up and amplified.”
The opening ceremony of the online talks will be joined by Business Secretary and Cop26 president Alok Sharma, who said: “Mock Cop is a fantastic initiative and I applaud the organisers’ dedication and commitment to tackling climate change.
“As we head towards Cop26 next year, this event will further demonstrate the appetite that exists across the world for governments and organisations to take ambitious climate action.”
Nigel Topping, the high level climate action champion for Cop26, will formally receive the final statement from Mock Cop26 youth in the closing ceremony.
Environmental law charity ClientEarth is working with the students to develop a legal treaty that enables countries to adopt the Mock Cop26 demands into law.
Emily Beament is the PA environment correspondent.