This November the UN came together for the latest ‘Conference of the Parties’ (COPs), which have been happening for nearly three decades. COP26 aimed to unite world leaders from all parties to secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach, adapt to protect communities and natural habitats and mobilise finance, all these by working together.

The actions needed to make these goals happen have not been established. The statements our world leaders end up being left as empty promises that keep occurring year after year.

In addition to this, COP26 has shown serious issues of transparency and credibility as all meetings where decisions were made have been behind closed doors. Youth representatives have had no chance to state their positions and be part of the decision making process.

We live in a state of climate emergency that requires immediate action before the damage on our planet and the effect that this has on the life of its inhabitants is irreversible. A survey carried out by the European Environmental Bureau found that in 2021 over three quarters of young Europeans between 15 to 35 years old believe that climate change is a very serious problem at this moment. For the first time, in the same study climate change ranks first as the single most serious problem facing the world as a whole.

Increasing numbers of young people are taking an active stand to influence political decision making in favour of a healthy environment for all. For this reason, youth need to be actively involved in decision making processes in order to assure climate justice is reached. The lack of youth involvement is a sign of great concern for this conference and the future of next generations to come.

COP26 has been a huge disappointment in many fronts for climate activists as well as observers. This is due to the continued lack of support for climate adaptation finance, loss and damage and lack of efforts to address climate injustice. Decision makers are not taking the measures proven to be necessary to implement a green transition that protects the most vulnerable and is inclusive for everyone.

People in most-affected countries continue to be victims of a crisis they did not cause, and measures to support those most affected are not being sufficiently implemented. For example, the Global South remains to be exposed to severe climate change consequences while governments and corporations are not taking the required effort and accountability for their actions and involvement in this process.

Moreover, the number of stakeholders in the field of fossil fuel represented during the conference is a matter of serious concern due the conflict of interest that these represent together with lack of democratic legitimacy of the fossil fuel lobby in reaching climate neutrality. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has found that emissions from fossil fuels are the dominant cause of global warming. In 2018, 89% of global CO2 emissions came from fossil fuels and industry.

We are highly concerned that the interest of these stakeholders will hinder the rapid change that is required to reach climate neutrality. The decision makers need to take and implement immediate long-term effective actions that ensure a healthy and functional planet for the years to come rather than benefit from the short term benefits of corporations.

As AEGEE we advocate for young people to be actively involved in the transition towards a more sustainable and inclusive society where no one is left behind.

The action taken during the COP26 is insufficient and we call for corporations and governments to take further accountability for the commitments taken while at the same time giving youth a stage to take part in these decision making processes as we are all severely affected by the direct consequences of the actions of a few and youth can help bring along the change we so desperately need.