Young people from 140 countries who attended an online “mock Cop26” climate summit have presented a treaty of 18 policies to Nigel Topping, the UK’s high level climate action champion.
After two weeks of negotiations, delegates from the international youth-led conference presented their formal treaty to Topping during the event’s closing ceremony on Tuesday, and called on world leaders to prioritise the policies during Cop26, which was postponed for a year because of the pandemic and is now due to be held in Glasgow in November 2021.
Their demands include climate education at every level of formal education, tougher ecocide laws, stronger regulation on air quality, banning the offshoring of emissions and a commitment to limiting global heating to below 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.
Suphane Dash-Alleyne, a delegate from Guyana, South America, said: “Mock Cop26 sends a strong message to world leaders that young people can coordinate global negotiations and we have the solutions. Now is the time for us to have a seat at the table.”
A legal team, including lawyers from the legal charity ClientEarth, worked with delegates to formalise the statement into a treaty, which countries could adopt into law.
James Thornton, chief executive and founder of ClientEarth, said: “The youth behind Mock Cop26 have created a powerful statement calling on governments to take action to protect future generations from the worst impacts of climate change. Decisions taken by governments now will affect the youngest generation for many years to come.”
The Mock Cop26 policies were voted on by 330 young people across the globe who attended the event, with priority given to countries most affected by the climate crisis – people from the global south made up 72% of delegates.
Sainey Gibba, a 23-year-old delegate from the Gambia, said: “My country is very vulnerable to the impact of climate change, particularly rising sea levels and coastal erosion, so I feel like Mock Cop26 has really helped us raise our concerns and speak for the voiceless.
“Cop26 should never have been postponed, they should have done it virtually like how we have done it. They should really learn from us because there is so much urgency.”
The Mock Cop26 organisers grouped delegates by time zones to ensure they could attend the two-week schedule of talks and discussions around their studies, and they hope the online conference could become a model to help future major conferences produce less carbon emissions.
“If we have been able to organise a conference online where we got more than 300 delegates from more than 140 countries to come together and make policies, I think our leaders could too,” said Sonali, a 21-year-old event organiser from Patna, India. “It reduces the carbon footprint massively when people don’t have to travel.”
The delegates and volunteers involved in Mock Cop26 now plan to spend the next 12 months urging politicians to implement their policies nationally to raise ambition on the run up to Cop26.