COP26: We must listen to young people on the climate crisis as they will inherit the earth - if there's anything left of it - Ilona Amos

Greta Thunberg has been grabbing headlines since 2018, when at the age of 15 she began skipping lessons to sit outside the Swedish parliament in protest against her country’s inaction on climate change.

Despite her very few years on the planet, the teenager has been succeeding where older and more qualified individuals had made frustratingly small ground.

With her quiet determination and deadly serious demeanour, she has helped bring the climate crisis into everyday conversation and push it up the political agenda.

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Greta doesn’t beat around the bush, she tells it as she sees, no matter who’s in her audience.

Children gather at Parliament Square in London to read their 'letters to the earth' with 50 days to go until the UN Cop26 climate summit begins in Glasgow. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

World leaders have even sat up and listened.

Her unrelenting school strikes captured the public imagination and fired up a global movement of young people to come out and join her in support of the cause.

The Covid pandemic may have disrupted demonstrations, with regulations against gatherings and most pupils learning from home due to school closures, but the young have not gone away.

They are still fighting to get their voices heard.

Just this week, with under two months to go until world leaders arrive in Glasgow for the UN climate conference COP26, children gathered at Westminster to read ‘letters to the earth’.

And here in Scotland 50 young activists from across the country have joined forces to create an official COP26 Youth Climate Programme.

The initiative has been designed to equip other young Scots with the knowledge, skills and confidence to engage with proceedings at the conference.

With Scottish Government support, it will see youngsters from all backgrounds and regions come together to take part in tailored training schemes.

One young volunteer who helped design the programme said: “Young people in Scotland are passionate about tackling climate change, we have solutions to big environmental problems, and we want an opportunity to have our opinions heard on a world stage.

“The launch of the COP26 Youth Climate Programme gives us an opportunity to collaborate, learn from each other and get involved in the climate change conversation throughout COP26 and beyond. We recognise the risk global warming poses to our future. We want action now.”

Climate change is described as the biggest threat ever to face mankind. So I don’t think that’s too much to ask. After all, it’s their future hanging in the balance.

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