Youth Mock COP26 declaration urges climate action from world leaders

Young people from 140 countries ran their own online climate conference, Mock COP26, in early December and have written to the Heads of State of all countries and the Secretary General of the UN outlining their declaration for urgent climate action this side of COP26.

The two-week global conference, held from 19 November-1 December 2020, comprised 330 delegates aged 11-30, representing 140 countries. Delegates set out to create an inclusive and equitable space – which they say is missing from the real COP – to forge a youth-led plan for transformational action on climate change.

Following the conference, delegates have issued a Mock COP26 treaty, which reminds world leaders of the urgency of taking climate action.  

One delegate, from Iceland, commented: “We feel only partly listened to. We are praised for enthusiasm but politicians are not taking us seriously enough. They are not treating this crisis like a crisis.”

What is Mock COP26?

In 2020, students from the Teach the Future campaign looked for ways to influence the outcomes of COP26 by seeking further commitments to support the provision of universal, scientific climate education. To fill the void left by the postponement of the COP26 and with the support of individual students involved in Fridays for the Future International, the group decided to hold a youth-led Mock COP event, to express the demands of young people on  five key themes:

  • climate justice
  • climate education
  • climate resilient livelihoods
  • physical and mental health
  • Nationally Determined Contributions.

The Mock COP26 treaty

Through the process of high-level statements made by delegates and policy caucuses, and a voting process on amendments, Mock COP26 delegates formed their proposition for a legal treaty, which takes the same format as official UNFCCC accords, and could be endorsed by world political leaders.

The treaty notes the dramatic unilateral and multilateral measures taken by governments across the world to mitigate the threat of Covid-19, and asks governments to take “equally dramatic and urgent action to stop the threats we face from the climate emergency and ecological crisis.” It calls on governments to act with urgency to enact all, or some of the measures in their countries in the run-up to COP26 in November 2021.

Outlining their vision for the future, delegates issue this challenge: “We say, once again, to all policy-makers that the youth across the world are tired of empty climate promises. We, the youth, are ready to work with you in building a self-reliant, safe, inclusive and sustainable world. The question is, are you ready?” (delegate from India).

The treaty considers that governments around the world are failing to meet their legal and moral obligations to tackle the climate and ecological crisis, and that children and young people, as well as women and local and Indigenous communities, are disproportionately affected by the worsening impacts of climate change and ecological damage. It also outlines that children and young people in developing country Parties (and in particular in the least developed countries and small island developing states) bear the greatest burden of those impacts, despite contributing the least to their causes.

It calls on world leaders who will be represented at COP26 to meet the commitments made in the Paris Agreement and lays out a declaration for action covering the five key themes noted above.

It also contains transcripts of high-level statement made by delegations, in which delegates gave first-hand testimony of the effects of climate change, through what is happening in their own countries: from submerging islands, melting Polar ice, the first climate refugees, rising sea levels, loss of coral reefs and mangroves, cyclones and hurricanes, melting glaciers, increased air pollution, drought and heat waves, changing patterns of rainfall and floods, food and water shortages, and advancing deserts.

You can read the full Mock COP treaty here.

Find out more about the Mock COP26 here and read Mock COP26’s letter to Heads of State here.

Image: Fridays For Future protest inside COP25, 2019. Credit John Englart/Climate Action Network, Flickr.

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