Tensions were high going into the Conference of Parties (COP) 26 at the Scottish Events Campus (SEC), Glasgow, Scotland, this year. COP this year was held from November 1 to 12. From the looks of this year’s COP, the goal of keeping the rising global temperature to 1.5 Celsius was still the major point of the discussion, keeping the idea metaphorically alive, albeit it did seem like the idea was on life support.
COP 26 talked about fulfilment and accomplishing promises made in the previous COPs. At the same time, the Least Developed Countries (LDC) can’t help but feel a little swindled, as the major point of contention brought to the table by the LDC was the topic of Loss and Damage was not addressed to the necessary degree. A similar thing can be seen when it comes to the idea of youth inclusion in climate action.
While at the conference, you can hear the restless protests of youth outside the venue demanding accountability and their seat at the table. Throughout the conference, you could come across statements along the lines of “Young people are the future”, “We need to hand over a better world to the youth”, “We need better youth inclusion”, but there was an overbearing sense of tokenism in their actions. Even though a growing number of youth climate initiatives were taken up and support was brought around, there seems to be hardly any representation of youth from the LDCs.
There still seems to persist a disparity of badges and opportunity allocation between the Global North and the Global South. One example of such is the disparity of badge allocation for the youth. The COP badge allows a participant to attend the conference in the Blue Zone, where the actual negotiations happen. Although the badge allocation issue is already a major problem endemic to the youth population, the LDC youth suffer more due to the lack of opportunities. The LDC youth face critical political, economic, and socio-cultural contexts; they lack the resource bandwidth and means to avail the Global North youth’s opportunities. That being said, just having knowledge capacity building and an “enabling environment” is not enough, as more barriers are at play.
The youth also emanated the same feeling, echoing how LDCs felt heavy-hearted due to their issues not being addressed to the necessary degree. Bouncing from the “blah blah blah” speech by Greta Thunberg, there is no denying that the time for dialogue is long past and now is the time for action. We need to start taking better steps into including youth in climate action. The LDC group is currently reeling from the disheartening COP 26 and looking towards COP 27. It has been announced that the next COP, COP27, will be held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, which will be seen as an “LDC COP”.
While the ultimate outcome of COP 26 was seen as lackluster, there still seemed to persist a sense of hope as the dialogue of finalizing the Santiago Network on Loss and Damage (SNLD), which was pitched at COP 25, was picked up this year.
The SNLD tries to provide research and technical assistance on the issue of Loss and Damage from human-induced climate change. The dialogue, however, did not set up the totality of how the network will act, but it opened up the platform to be picked up again and finalize the setup at COP 27.
Other than that, there have been significant strides outside the conference venue, which led to the creation of the Loss and Damage fund, the fund was initiated with a balance of one million pounds, offered by Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland.
The act of initiating the fund was to challenge the other global leaders to start taking the issue of Loss and Damage seriously. With that, over the following two weeks at COP 26, philanthropic foundations and the Province of Wallonia, Belgium, raised funds significantly. All hope does not seem to be lost; taking our learnings from COP 26 and renewed determination, the world, especially the LDC group, now looks towards COP 27.
Originally this article was published on January 23, 2022 at Dhaka Tribune.
Shohail Bin Saifullah is working as a project associate at the International Centre for Climate Change and Development. He can be reached at [email protected].