Ahead of COP26 last year, Mollie McGoran MSYP, SYP’s Vice Chair, attended the Conference of Youth – the young person’s equivalent of COP26 – as one of five representatives from Scotland. One year on, Mollie shares her experience of this event, and her hopes for the future.
My experience at the Conference of Youth in 2021 was unlike any other conference. I have never felt so empowered in my life, as I could really feel the passion in the room. I got to speak to amazing activists from around the world, speak to influential decision makers, and find lasting connections with other young people who care about the same issues as I do. I loved everything about it (except from walking up the hill every day to get to the conference venue!)
Since attending the Conference of Youth, I feel I am a lot more aware of the problems of climate change globally, but also within Scotland too. I also chose to make some changes to my Law degree, and I am now taking a module in climate change and another one in energy and environment projects, partly because of my experience at COY!
As we come to the end of COP27, I would like to see delegates taking young people’s voices seriously. Every year, the team behind the Conference of Youth produce a detailed report outlining young peoples’ calls to the decision makers. Having seen what actions have been taken since 2021, it looks like a lot of them didn’t do much reading.
Last year, as I was preparing for the Conference of Youth, I wrote about SYP’s priorities for COP26, and I have been reflecting on these as I write this blog post. Although Scotland is already working on many of these issues, I believe there is more that could be done. Therefore, I repeat our calls on decision makers to:
- Recognise the global climate emergency is an issue of climate justice, and to take action to reduce emissions and to share the benefits of increased wealth and development with countries most impacted by climate change.
- Improve and expand education to help children, young people, and their families to live sustainably. This is particularly important in the current cost of living crisis.
- Improve access to active and sustainable transport, by making it easier, cheaper and safer for young people to use these options.
- Continue working towards a circular economy, and increasing efforts to improve Scotland’s current waste management infrastructure, remove single-use packaging, and increase access to reusable alternatives.
- Ensure children and young people have meaningful opportunities to take part in all stages of policy development. Young people are not the future of climate change, we are the here and now. So, decision makers need to listen to us now!