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Youth Activists Plan ‘Mock COP’ to Protest Delays in Climate Action

Frustrated by the lack of progress in addressing the climate emergency and appalled by the UK’s pallid efforts to promote the pandemic-delayed COP 26, young activists will be holding their own “Mock COP” this November.

Run by #FridaysforFuture, the event will include delegates from as many countries as the activists can sign on, “with a focus on the global south to contrast with what they see as the dominance of developed countries in the UN negotiations,” reports the Guardian.

Mimicking the formal conference, the Mock COP will offer “high-level opening statements by the youth delegates, [and] keynotes and panels by global names” in its first week, followed by “a week of facilitated workshops and regional caucuses.” The Guardian adds that “the discussions will be framed around five conference themes: climate justice, education, health and mental health, green jobs, and carbon reduction targets.”

Driving the event is the determination to hold adult policy-makers to account: the Mock COP will conclude “with a statement to world leaders from the youth of the world, with demands for the achievements they want to see from the real COP 26,” now scheduled for November 2021.

This “parallel young people’s conference” was largely inspired by concerns over how slow the UK has been to prepare to host COP 26, notes The Guardian. “We are very disappointed that we are so far behind,” said Carlos Fuller, a representative of the Alliance of Small Island States. “The UK needs to exercise its muscle more.”

Meanwhile, only silence has been heard from Downing Street, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying little about either the climate crisis or COP 26, the launch of which was “overshadowed by the botched sacking of the ex-MP originally appointed to lead the conference, Claire O’Neill.” O’Neill has since taken her former colleagues to task for “inaction” on the climate/COP 26 file.

Comparing the UK’s scant efforts to perform the duties of a COP host to the flurry of effort produced by the French government in the two years leading up to the signing of the Paris Agreement in 2015, former Irish President Mary Robinson told The Guardian: “I have not seen the leadership necessary to deliver a successful COP. It takes every ounce of influence and diplomatic muscle, and we are not seeing that yet.”

Further complicating the planning is the ongoing debacle of Brexit. The Johnson government’s recent, blithe admission that its Brexit caper will break international law has many fearing this cavalier attitude to legality “will be used by opponents of the Paris Agreement to discredit the summit’s hosts and foster discord.”

And there is one additional “sticking point,” notes The Guardian. “The UK has still not made a public commitment on a new plan for cutting its own emissions,” even as it pressures other nations to do so.