COP26 young people: Young activists 'trying not to be too hopeful' as climate talks get underway

As COP negotiations open and world leaders take to the stage, young people are anxious and “trying not to be too hopeful” as Glasgow hosts the major climate talks.

With a dedicated day of ‘youth empowerment’ on Friday and events dotted throughout the conference focused on young people, COP26 has promised to include and make sure young people are at “the head of the agenda”.

Closing his speech at the opening ceremony for the world leaders’ summit, Prince Charles mentioned how important it was the young voice was platformed and heard amidst these discussions.

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Nicola Sturgeon tweeted a picture of herself and young activists Greta Thunberg and Vanessa Nakate on Monday, saying their voices should be heard “loudly and clearly” at the event.

Kate Chambers, from 2050 Climate Group a youth-led climate charity based in Glasgow, explains why young people are 'so tired' ahead of COP26 (Photo: Craig Sinclair)

The Scottish Government has also invested £950,000 to involve children and young people in COP26 and the ongoing climate conversation

However, this “loud voice” of young people emphasised by politicians and delegates is up for debate by the young people from Glasgow attending the events.

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Kate Chambers, from 2050 Climate Group – a youth-led climate charity based in Glasgow – said: “It’s really exciting to be here, but it's quite an exclusionary event.

"You’ve got Covid issues which are causing real issues for people from the global south unable to attend COP.

"This is my first ever COP and I was expecting it to be really exclusionary for young people, so I didn’t expect to see as many young people as I have and we’ve all kind of gravitated towards one another."

However, Ms Chambers said there were still many young people missing out.

She said: "But to be honest it’s really sad to hear of other young activists that we know who are trying to get into this space who have accreditation, but they’re either stuck in their country with issues about their visa, issues with Covid, the cost of getting accommodation in Glasgow which are absolutely astronomical.

"I’m trying not to be too optimistic just because young people are so tired.

“We are tired of hearing empty promises and we really need to see action, so I’m trying not to get my hopes up, but I really want to see something meaningful come out of this COP.”

The 2050 Climate Group is focused on empowering the voice of young people living in Scotland, but also have an international focus and work with climate activists from Malawi.

A total of eight delegates from the 2050 Climate Group are in the blue zone for COP26 and the charity has an event in the green zone with climate activists from Malawi talking about how to tackle climate action.

They have been live-tweeting their movements at the conference to “demystify” the talks to young people.

Ms Chambers said: “As someone who lives just outside Glasgow in Clydebank, it’s really sad to see it’s not been more inclusive of the people of Glasgow.

"A lot of people I speak to in my community are a bit confused by the whole thing. They don’t understand why the roads are closed, they don’t understand why they are not involved in the discussions.

"This has been heralded as the last chance to save climate change, but there’s people out in the street who have no idea what this is about.”

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