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Young Activists Claim They “Do Not Have A Voice” At COP26 Despite Pledges From World Leaders

Young Activists Claim They “Do Not Have A Voice” At COP26 Despite Pledges From World Leaders
3 min read

Emotions ran high at a gathering of young climate activists outside the secure zones of the COP26 climate summit as many criticised world leaders for failing to hear youth voices.

Members of Fridays For Future, a global grassroots movement of climate activists, congregated beside the River Clyde directly opposite the conference to voice their concerns about its proceedings. 

In a series of speeches, the teenage campaigners took aim at world leaders for failing to prioritise marginalised communities in what one claimed was the “most exclusive” climate conference yet.

Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her work, was in attendance but did not speak.

“Since we don't have a real voice we are going to say what we want from here,” Nicki Becker, an Argentine activist, told the crowd.

Activists criticised many of those in power for “tokenising” young people, especially those from the Global South, while failing to include them fully in their decision making. 

“The most affected people from the Global South have fought for decades for a space at the table. The table where, every year, world leaders decide on the fates of billions of us without us,” Jon Bonifcacio, an activist from the Philippines, said. 

“This year’s COP26, after so many difficulties, is shaping up to be the most exclusive COP ever. We have had enough.”

Another activist said: “To the world leaders at COP, making all those fancy pledges and statements, we [the youth] are watching you. We have come here to demand our basic right to life and a liveable future. 

“We the youth, alongside the most impacted parts of society, will not stop until we uproot the system and build a world that puts people and planet first."

Speaking earlier on Monday, Thunberg, who is attending the conference despite not being formally invited, said world leaders were on track to “lead us nowhere”.

"Inside COP there are just politicians and people in power pretending to take our future seriously, pretending to take the present seriously of the people who are being affected already today by the climate crisis,” she told a separate Fridays For Future event. 

"Change is not going to come from inside there. That is not leadership – this is leadership."

Their frustrated tone came in stark contrast to earlier pleas from the PM and world leaders to consider “the crowds of young people outside” in their decisions.

“The people who will judge us are children not yet born, and their children,” he said in his opening remarks. 

“We are now coming centre stage before a vast and uncountable audience of posterity, and we must not fluff our lines or miss our cue because if we fail they will not forgive us.”

Asked what they thought of Boris Johnson opening COP26 remarks, another activist described them as “bullshit”.

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