Mock COP26

Earlier this year, the highly-anticipated COP26 was cancelled. For those who don’t know, this is the UN’s annual climate summit, where world leaders gather to negotiate emissions reductions pledges and mechanisms for achieving them. 2020’s summit was an especially important one: it marked a 5 year milestone after the adoption of the Paris agreement, a point at which countries had the opportunity to review their Nationally Determined Contributions (pledges for emissions reductions) and raise their ambition together.
It has also become increasingly obvious that deadlines for global action are far shorter than had originally been anticipated: according to the IPCC, we have perhaps just 7 years left until we overrun our carbon budget for 1.5 degrees. That means that in order to bring about the change we need in time, policies need to be adopted and implemented rapidly.
But COVID had no regard for the urgency of climate action, and the logistics and safe running of a climate summit this year became very difficult. The decision was made to postpone it rather than run it virtually, over fears that negotiations wouldn’t be as effective via a screen.

Needless to say, at a time when every month counts, a delay of a year is not good news. But from it have come several silver linings.
One of those was the Mock COP. To fill the void of the postponed COP26, young people around the world came together to hold their own version. In this event, over 330 young people represented more than 140 nations in a virtual summit to show the world what would happen if young people were today’s decision-makers, and set a bar for the level of leadership we wanted to see from global leaders at the real event next year.

I was one of 5 delegates chosen to represent the UK and its overseas territories. Our task was to create a high-level statement on behalf of the UK, to show the scale of ambition our government should have as co-hosts of the event, and as one of the wealthiest countries and greatest historic contributors to anthropogenic warming.
We spoke about what we saw as priority areas for the government over the next decade: stricter regulation of the financial sector, increased funding for ecological restoration, incorporating the climate crisis into the educational curriculum and stepping up our commitments to helping those in the Global South who are already suffering as a result of climate change. We also demanded that our leaders adopt a more ambitious NDC of 80% emissions reductions by 2030, up from the current pledge of 68%. You can read our full statement in the conference declaration linked at the bottom of this post.

Afterwards, together with the other delegates from all around the world, we helped to draft and vote on policies to incorporate into a global statement, which was then formalised into a legal treaty by Client Earth. Our asks covered 6 main themes: climate education, climate justice, climate resilient livelihoods, physical and mental health, NDCs and protecting biodiversity.
On the 1st of December our treaty was presented to Nigel Topping, the High-level Champion for Climate Action at COP26, in the hope that the asks will be adopted by global leaders next year.

You can find our treaty, together with a transcript of all the countries’ high level statements, here. Conference Declaration – Mock COP

Participating in the Mock COP was a fantastic opportunity that I’m very grateful for – both from the perspective of learning a little more about how UN summits work, but also being part of a beautiful display of unison in my generation across the world.
I have a huge amount of respect for the team of students in the UK and around the globe who gave weeks of their time to organise and run the event – some of whom were far younger than even me. If this initiative of theirs is something you would like to support, or read more about, please visit www.mockcop.org

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