Last hope for the climate


How much can we dare to hope for at the UN Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, United Kingdom? Young activists have helped bring attention to the climate crisis, but they are not hoping that COP26 will bring about the necessary changes. From October 31 to November 12, COP26 aims to maintain a possible warming limit of 1.5 ° C, to guarantee a net zero carbon footprint by 2050, to mobilize funding, to protect communities with natural habitats and to provide the rules and regulations of Paris Agreement. The world is not on track to meet these goals, but they are still within reach if drastic action is taken now.
The photo in the last Lancet countdown is one of the changing environmental conditions creating higher levels of drought, increased exposure to forest fires, increased food insecurity through reduced agricultural yields and increased ability to transmit infectious diseases like dengue, malaria and cholera. Those least responsible for climate change, including young people, are the most exposed to its impacts. The record high temperatures in 2020 meant 626 million more person-days of heatwave exposure for children under one year of age, compared to the 1986-2005 average, according to the report. Young children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of high temperatures and heat waves. This risk is exacerbated in countries with a low or medium UN Human Development Index (HDI), which have experienced the greatest increase in heat vulnerability over the past 30 years. Physical activity is encouraged among young people, but the report found that reduced hours were available for safe physical activity due to rising temperatures. In the low HDI group, 3.7 hrs / person per day were lost to safe activity in 2020, compared to 2.5 hrs / person per day in 1991.
The pace of improvement must accelerate sharply, as the young activists insist. The Youth recovery plan, published in August 2021, was developed by a network of 14,000 young people at the initiative of Davos Lab. Young people called for an immediate halt to all further development in coal, oil and gas, and for financial institutions to move away from investing in fossil fuels. In accordance with the Lancet Countdown recommendations, 82% of young people wanted climate action to be a goal of economic recovery after COVID-19. The South African Youth Climate Action Plan stresses the importance of intersectionality, a transformed energy economy and responsible and transparent governance.
With the potential to have a direct impact on COP26, a Youth4Climate summit was organized by the Italian government, Connect4Climate, the UN and the World Bank Group. Held in Milan, Italy (September 28-30), before the politicians meeting PreCOP gathered there (September 30-October 2), the youth summit brought together around 400 young people from all over the world. The summit aimed to inform a document to be sent to COP26, the main demands of which included ensuring meaningful engagement of young people in climate decision-making, creating a climate-conscious society, and respecting human rights and rights. local knowledge of indigenous and indigenous peoples. Summit delegates called on non-state actors to engage in ethical and sustainable practices and embrace climate change mitigation solutions, and urged the private sector to align its operations with net zero emissions. The Lancet The countdown focused on a swift move away from coal, with a divestment from the fossil fuel industry and investments in renewable energy, but youth summit delegates went further, demanding abolition the fossil fuel industry by 2030. They called on non-state actors to refuse to invest in fossil fuels, and urged the public and private sectors to create a transparent climate finance system with strong emissions regulations. of carbon.

While such initiatives give young people a voice, is it being heard? Several Youth4Climate delegates claimed that its organizers were not interested in their ideas, with some of the young delegates showing their disillusionment by leaving the last day’s meeting. Activist Martina Comparelli accused political leaders of washing young people – using young activists to legitimize their commitments. In her Youth4Climate speech, Greta Thunberg said that politicians pretend to simply listen to young people, describing their various climate commitments as “blah, blah, blah” and adding that “Our hopes and dreams are drowning in their empty promises”. As she said: “We can no longer let the people in power decide what hope is … Hope is not blah, blah, blah … Hope comes to pass. ‘action. And hope always comes from the people.

The climate crisis is already threatening our well-being. With their passion and willingness to make radical changes in the way we live and structure our systems, young people are leading the way, and politicians must heed if we are to protect planetary and human health.


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