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Youth Views on the Glasgow UN Climate Change Convention CoP26 Outcomes

Harmony Online Journal - Youth Voices on Science, Law and Sustainability

By Jona Cordonier Gehring (Winchester College) and Nico Cordonier Gehring (King’s College School)

TheCOP26 UN Climate Change Conferencewhich washosted by the UK in partnership with Italy, took place from 31 October to 12 November 2021 in Glasgow. This is the 26th Conference of the Partiesto theUN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC),where ‘Parties’ means thecountries that haveagreed to the UNFCCC, nearly all of which have also ratified the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change. For nearly thirty years,theUNhas been bringing togetherrepresentatives fromalmost every country on earth– and many other organisations too -for these global climate summits in order to coordinate their efforts to take action on climate change, implementing the commitments and obligations that they have agreed to respect.In this time, the COPs ofthe UNFCCCdeveloped from a small, specialist eventwith a few diplomats and scientists from different countries, to a meetingofhighestpriority and global importancewith many heads of state, serious delegations…

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Year 8 Pupils Visit COP26

Interview by Kings College School Cambridge (to read the full interview click here)

Why was it important for you to visit COP26?

Nico: We wanted to attend COP26 for several reasons; firstly, it was a great opportunity for us to learn much more about climate change and what we can do to play our part in combating it. It was also especially important for us to attend as the event was in Scotland which made it easy to get to but also because we wanted to represent. One of our other main objectives was to build connections within the community.
Thomas: We were very grateful to be invited to contribute to COP26 and represent young people. It was a great opportunity for us to both learn and share ideas. We were pleased that we were able to meet so many people from all over the globe and also speak with various organisations.

What did you do whilst you were there?

Nico: We arrived on Friday but Saturday was the main day of activities. In the morning we went to the “Green Zone” where we were able to check out lots of interesting climate focused experiments and witness the operations that different organisations are doing to help the climate cause. Some of the main highlights for me were seeing the ”eco-choir”, who have sung in different competitions, and WWF presentation (World Wide Fund for Nature) who spoke about the importance of marshes and wetlands eco systems.

The Green Zone was actually housed in a Science Museum so were able to see the COP26 events along with the normal exhibits which we enjoyed. We were also invited to be part of the launch of a youth-led journal called “Harmony”. The journal will include youth views on science, law and sustainability solutions.  This comprised 5 University students, 8 young people, and several other youth campaigners online from across the world including Canada, Kenya, Taiwan, England and France.

Thomas: We really enjoyed listening to the eco-choir who spoke about what children can do to solve climate problems and this was really interesting and informative. We also saw some fascinating displays about polar regions melting and the effects that would have. We were able to go inside a cool jungle which was essentially a view of the future that nature had “taken back”. It was a really interactive and visually immersive experience. We were excited to launch the “Harmony” journal which will be a seasonal online publication with many different organisations contributing, such as WWF and various other youth-led organisations.  We also met a Tik Tok influencer called Cam Whitehall, who campaigns a lot about climate and conservation and he was very interested to help with the journal which is great because he has many young followers.

What do you hope COP26 will achieve?

Nico: I was excited when they announced the reforestation commitment which aims to restore most or all forests by 2030. This was signed by several countries including Brazil and Australia. As a result, 85% of the world’s forests are going to be protected and reforested. I’m also keen to see what they’re going to do with the funds they’ve recently acquired in the area of reforestation to help deal with climate change.

Thomas: I hope they’ll be able to pledge to protect the world’s wetlands as this is very important in the journey to slowing climate change. The world’s woodlands, fens but also mangroves are vitally important both to nature and conservation so I am interested to see what commitments are made to these areas. I am also hoping they make progress on protecting the Arctic and that they agree pledges and funds to protect these regions.

What’s next for you?

Nico: I am looking forward to working towards the goals with the Harmony journal – I’m keen to start distributing the first copy, I would love for it to get a big following and grow a community. Next steps are also going to be continuing to work with the main youth organisations throughout the world to continue to create a community of people who understand and can help climate change.


Thomas: I’m also looking forward to launching the Harmony journal as a means to spread awareness – there is no time left to leave this to tomorrow – the world’s leaders need to start tackling the situation more urgently today. The more people know about climate change and the more they can educate themselves, the more we can all make a difference together.

ECO-ACTIVITIES: The Cambridge Eco-Challenge for the Global Sustainable Development Goals!


START NOW AND SPREAD THE WORD

The Cambridge Eco-Challenge for the Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is organised by the Cambridge Schools Eco-Council, a local network of students from over 30 Cambridge schools who lead eco-clubs. The Eco-Challenge was created to inspire children who are at home under lockdown measures to stay active and enhance their local environment and sustainability, one small project at a time.

The Cambridge Eco-Challenge can be accessed on the eco-council committee’s website blog, where a challenge will be posted online every fortnight!

The first Eco-Challenge went live a few days ago, and will run until April 25th, 2020. The task asks children to think about green and garden waste. Since the green waste bins are no longer being collected due to the pandemic, the eco-challenge is for kids to build a green waste composter (big or small, for gardens, balconies, or even windowsills). Children take photos of their design, building process and completed project (with themselves in the photos if they wish) and write a short blog entry about their project, then send it by email at: cambschoolsecocouncil@gmail.com
Local community leaders will judge the entries, and the most creative submissions will be awarded Eco-Challenge Gold, Silver and Bronze certificates!

Children of all ages are invited to participate in all the challenges the Eco-Council will post over the coming weeks. We can’t wait to see what kind of eco-creations you come up with!