04
Oct

PreCOP26: the youth observers’ perspective

by Giulia Persico, Coordinator of ICN’s School Project and YOUNGO spokesperson at preCOP26

(image: Giulia Persico from ICN speaking on behalf of YOUNGO at the preCOP26 final plenary, Milan, Italy, 2 October 2021)

PreCOP26 offered 50 countries the opportunity to meet and discuss ahead of COP26. Some civil society organizations also participated in the preCOP as observers, through the nine official UNFCCC constituencies. Among these, YOUNGO (Youth NGOs) represents the youth NGOs that deal with climate in the world, and the Italian Climate Newtork is the group’s focal point for Italy.

The Milan preCOP was not intended to lead to any major decision, but offered an additional opportunity for discussion in view of COP26 for countries whose policies have the greatest impact on the global emissions budget. The goal was to facilitate the forthcoming negotiations on issues on which disagreement has not been appeased. “Trust” has been one of the recurring words these days, between bilateral confrontations and the reconstruction of multilateral climate dialogue after almost two years of nothing.

Several issues remain to be solved in view of COP26, in particular regarding mitigation and adaptation to climate change: not exceeding the limit of 1.5 ° C of average temperature rise by the end of the century, the definition of more stringent objectives for 2025 , to 2030 and 2050, climate finance and in particular the financing of $ 100 billion a year by the Parties as well as issues related to loss and damage, transparency and common timeframes for national contributions under the Paris Agreement (NDCs) .

During preCOP26, ìobservers intervened in the initial plenary, in which the nine constituencies presented two speeches to express their common points, especially regarding the necessary action of States. They also participated in the final plenaries on specific topics of discussion and, during the closing plenary, each group had the opportunity to speak with a 2-minute speech.

But what were the highlights of YOUNGO’s final speech? Taking up what was discussed during Youth4Climate and the objectives and proposals formulated there, YOUNGO invited the Parties to: join the SC1.5NCE NOT SILENCE Campaign to recognize the role of science and the importance of not exceeding objective 1.5 ° C, sign an Intergovernmental Declaration on Children, Youth and Climate Action to ensure a healthy environment for all, use nature-based solutions, ensure transparency and inclusiveness in terms of climate finance, remember the importance of education and a just transition especially for the young people of the countries most affected by climate change . YOUNGO also expressed its support to global climate movements and asked decision makers to question the roots of the protests in order to act in the right direction.

Several speakers in their closing speeches mentioned the importance of listening to observers, especially young people – this is perhaps one of the most positive outcomes linked to the Youth4climate process. The British President of COP26, Alok Sharma, announced a day dedicated to Youth during COP26 and immediately invited all Parties to listen and engage. Sharma himself later stated in a press conference that a failure of COP26 is not a conceivable option. The Italian Minister of Ecological Transition, Roberto Cingolani, said that young people must move from protests to proposals and stressed the importance of jointly addressing the issue of climate and inequalities.

A little less than a month ahead of COP26 in Glasgow, the delegates seem to have found common ground on some topics, while others have been left in uncertainty. In the first in-person negotiation after the pandemic, the 50 countries worked to foster dialogue and mutual trust to ensure enhanced climate action. However, promises might sound far from a reality in which the majority of NDCs presented by Parties are blatantly insufficient vis-a-vis the goal of keeping the planet within the limits set by the Paris Agreement.

In COP climate meetings, the fate of the world is sometimes played on single words, and we can no longer run the risk that they will remain empty “bla bla bla” – quoting the speech by Greta Thunberg at the opening of Youth4climate. Observers will continue to push decision makers towards more climate action, with due urgency and attention. Only Glasgow will provide us a final balance.

You are reading this ICN COP Bulletin article as part of the EC DEAR SPARK project. ICN monitors negotiations and reports what is happening in Italian and English, on our website and on social channels, as part of a pan-European consortium of over 20 non-profit organizations committed to promoting climate awareness with particular attention to the role of young people and issues related to international cooperation and gender policies.

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