- Youth activists from different parts of the world participated both in-person and virtually at the ongoing Glasgow climate summit, demanding to be heard.
- They staged protests, organised marches, and have been part of some of the panel discussions at the 26th edition of the United Nations Conference of the Parties (CoP).
- Youth activists from climate-vulnerable countries say that they struggle to get their voices heard. The activists, including those from indigenous communities, demanded to be part of the decision-making process.
It is the second week of negotiations at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in the United Kingdom, where several countries, including India, have announced ambitious targets to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial times. Youth activists, however, are not entirely satisfied with the commitments and decisions announced by world leaders. Gathered from around the world, in Glasgow, they say that this climate conference is not inclusive and demand to be included in the decision-making process.
“There are communities in the frontline that are suffering right now and many of those voices are not here today!” said climate activist and public speaker Laura Young, at a press conference, on November 4 at the main venue of COP26.
An important part of the youth action during COP26 were the protests conducted in Glasgow and around the world. Two of the largest protests demanding climate action and climate justice took place in Glasgow on November 5 and 6. The organisers said that about 100,000 people marched on November 6, making it the biggest march during COP26.
On both days, the protesters marched through the streets of Glasgow echoing the slogan, ‘What do we want? Climate Justice. When do we want it? Now!’ The colourful placards, costumes, music, and theatrics were even more powerful on the second day, as the protesters marched despite heavy rains.
The protesters included different youth groups, indigenous groups, NGOs, and people from different countries who have travelled to Glasgow to take part in these marches. Fridays For Future and Extinction Rebellion were among the groups that were cheered on by the onlookers. Their collective cry demonstrated their disappointment with the commitments made by the world leaders during the ongoing climate negotiations.
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, who led the march on Friday, called COP26 a ‘Global North greenwash festival’. “We don’t need distant non-binding pledges … Look at their track record. This is the 26th COP,” she said as the crowd cheered and roared. “We are tired of their blah, blah, blah!” she continued.
“They are discussing the future of the planet that we will inherit and yet they don’t include us in the decision-making process!” Sebastian Jones, 24, from Scotland who took part in the protest on November 6, told Mongabay-India.
Alice Barwa, 23, from India, represented Adivasi youth at the protest on November 6 and said that she is at Glasgow to assert her identity as an indigenous young woman.
“Adivasis and their rights are not recognised. We need to be given a platform and the solutions should be intersectional in nature. The real voices are here – outside the COP venue. There are several red tapes to cross to get our voices heard at COP26,” Barwa told Mongabay-India.
“The key part of COP26 should be listening to the youth voices. We are going through a climate crisis, and we need action now!” said Joyce Rose, 30, from Scotland.