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When world leaders decided to postpone UN climate talks for a year due to the pandemic, young people, recognising the urgency of the climate crisis, decided not only to hold their own, online conference but also to see if they could improve on the original plans. Josh Tregale reports.
Between the 19th November and 1st December over 330 youth delegates representing over 140 countries took part in Mock COP26. An online youth led event filling the void left by postponement of COP26. I have had the privilege of working as an Event Coordinator for Mock COP26 since September. We had speeches from high profile public figures including the COP26 President, UN Youth Envoy, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, the High-Level Climate Action Champion for UN climate talks, scientist, economists and youth activists. All of the content from Mock COP26 can be viewed online on our YouTube channel www.youtube.com/c/mockcop26.
The conference mirrored some of the processes of COP summits although some changes were made to increase inclusivity and accessibility. Mock COP26 had a particular focus on the Global South who are on the front line of the climate crisis yet contribute the least to cause the problem. 72% of our delegates were from these countries and their votes were weighted above those from the Global North. Like with COPs the event ended in a global statement, declaring what actions and policies the youth delegates would commit to if they were the political leaders. The statement can be read at www.mockcop.org/treaty and it includes 18 policies ranging from climate education to the protection of indigenous land rights, Nationally Determined Contributions and Physical and Mental health.
I am so pleased with how the conference went, we had an estimated media reach of 98 million people and 5.4 million impressions of the #MockCOP26 hashtag on Twitter alone. The next challenge of Mock COP26 is to campaign for world leaders to listen to our ambition and push for more action ahead of COP26. It is crucial that as Christians we engage in policy, we are called to be ‘wise stewards of the earth’ and it is the rules and commitments of countries that have the most impact on stewarding the earth.
Please pray that world leaders listen to what young activists are calling for and that they raise their ambition ahead of COP26. The recovery from the pandemic has the potential to leave a lasting legacy and signal a new phase in our commitment to the preservation of our God’s creation and those who live in it.