Carbon Copy: Young people speak up at COP26 against climate inaction

Crowds spilled onto the streets outside the Scottish Event Campus on Nov 5 afternoon. ST PHOTO: DAVID FOGARTY
The British presidency of COP26 had designated Nov 5 as Youth Day. ST PHOTO: DAVID FOGARTY

GLASGOW - Most of the action on day six of the United Nations climate summit did not take place inside the conference venue.

Crowds spilled onto the streets outside the Scottish Event Campus on Friday (Nov 5) afternoon, with protesters carrying placards and beating drums as they urged government delegations gathered at COP26 to show greater climate ambition and set bolder targets to cut their release of planet-warming emissions.

"No more coal, no more oil, keep the carbon in soil!" they chanted as they marched along Sauchiehall Street, which was closed to traffic.

Friday had been designated as Youth Day by the British presidency of COP26, a reference to the Fridays For Future movement kick-started by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, who in 2018 skipped school to protest climate inaction.

Many among the crowd were young people. But they were joined by people of all ages, who marched in solidarity with the younger generation.

"The world owes a debt of gratitude to youth climate leaders and young people all over the world who care deeply about climate change," said Mr Ani Dasgupta, the president and chief executive of the Washington-based think-tank World Resources Institute.

"It is now up to the rest of us to make space for and truly listen to the young people who have the most at stake in creating a brighter future."

1. Singaporean youth speak up

Young people in Singapore concerned about environmental issues also made their voices heard on Youth Day, with a group of them issuing a statement on Friday morning Singapore time listing 18 recommendations for how the Republic can be made more liveable for future generations.

Titled An Urgent Call From Singaporean Youth On The Environmental Crisis, the statement was co-authored by six youth-led organisations, including the Singapore Climate Rally and FiTree, as well as 10 individuals from different sectors of society.

Their recommendations span six areas - emissions, nature, energy, corporate responsibility, community empowerment and inclusion, and the economy and people.

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Friday was Youth Day at COP26. People of all ages thronged the streets of Glasgow to make their voices heard in the fight for the planet’s climate future.

2. Record attendance at COP26

According to analysis by climate news site Carbon Brief, COP26 is likely to be the largest UN climate summit since COP1 in Germany in 1995.

Nearly 40,000 delegates have been registered on the UN's provisional list, which details those who had registered for the conference.

This year's list tops the 30,372 delegates registered for COP21 in Paris (2015), and the 27,301 delegates who signed up to attend COP15 in Copenhagen (2009), said Carbon Brief.

But travel restrictions wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic could mean that not all those who registered made it to Glasgow.

And, while the Singapore Government earlier declined to provide the number of delegates it sent, the provisional list showed that the Republic's national contingent comprised 51 delegates.

Malaysia's delegation comprised 28 people, while New Zealand sent 16.

Brazil, which also had a pavilion at the event, registered the largest named party delegation this year, with 479 delegates, said Carbon Brief.

3. Celebrating the ocean

The blue realm was also celebrated during Ocean Day on Friday at COP26, with ocean advocates calling for immediate action by heads of state to protect the world's seas and their precious biodiversity from the many harmful impacts wrought by climate change and human activities.

Ocean Rebellion activists protest against destructive industrial fishing during the COP26, in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain, on Nov 4, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

"Billions of people worldwide depend on the ocean for food, jobs, and cultural and economic survival, including some of Earth's most vulnerable communities," said Mr Manish Bapna, president and chief executive of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

"The ocean, a remarkable life-sustaining force on earth, today faces threats from all sides, especially from harmful climate impacts and unsustainable human activities."

4. A greener way to keep away the winter chill

A Scottish gas distribution firm plans to offer hydrogen produced with renewable energy to hundreds of homes for domestic heating, in a trial that could lead to a major roll-out of the cleaner fuel across Britain, slashing carbon emissions.

The trial by SGN is part of surging global interest in hydrogen as an alternative clean energy source, as pressure grows to shift away from polluting fossil fuels, whose emissions are heating up the planet.

Singapore is among nations, including Britain, Australia, Japan, Germany and the United States, that are exploring the use of hydrogen. Some nations already have hydrogen strategies focusing on production and use in power generation, heating and industry. Hydrogen is already being trialled in Germany to make low-emissions steel.

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