Visiting the COP26 Green Zone

The young activists felt they weren’t being listened to by world leaders

Many events and talks took place at the Glasgow Science Centre from the 1st of November to the 12th of November in the area known as the “Green Zone”. On the final day of COP26, The Tab Glasgow was lucky enough to obtain a ticket to the place.

After going through airport style security, I made my way to the event. I was attending “Creating Youth-Led Solutions: Sharing stories & insight with YMCA, film premiere and panel” that was being hosted by YMCA Scotland.

The film focused on different youth climate projects happening across the globe. I was given an insight into how young people in Zambia, Israel, Hawaii, Kosovo, Peru, the Philippines and several other countries were tackling the climate crisis.  In total, there had been 35 different projects around the world – the film had decided to focus on only a few. In Hawaii, the young people were dealing with the food waste on the island. In Kosovo, they tackled deforestation, a problem in the country. In Scotland, they focused on the problem of fast-fashion.

After the film, the activists we had seen in the film made it onto the stage for a panel. I heard from Rebecca Nkunde from Zambia, Rodrigo Puntriano Mendoza from Peru, Diana Lopera from Hawaii and Ylii Alija from Kosovo.

The four were passionate speakers, emphasising that throughout COP26 they felt that “lots of voices were not heard.” They also mentioned how they felt that as young people, they were being “pushed aside” but felt they did “have something to say”.

Throughout their time at the conference, the four were largely ignored by those at the top making the decisions that would affect their future. The only one who did listen to them was John Kerrey, the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate.

Being heard by Kerry brought hope to the four, however, it didn’t feel like enough. They argued that they needed, “more and more leaders who would listen” and how they wanted “leaders looking at the plight of young people”.

After the event, The Tab Glasgow took a tour of the venue. One highlight was listening to the musicians playing in the Green Zone. There were also several COP26 signs dotted across the venue, perfect places to pose for photos. And of course the environmental stalls, offering vegan treats or flyers to passers-by. Though as it was the final day, one did get the vibe that a lot of the stalls that had been there earlier in the week had now left.

All too soon, it was time for The Tab Glasgow to leave the Green Zone. After taking a special COP26 shuttle bus back to the centre, it was time to reflect on what we had learned the past few weeks during COP26.

A COP26 spokesperson said:

“The actions and scrutiny of young people are key to us keeping 1.5 alive and creating a net-zero future. We have been clear in the important role young people have the fight against climate change.

“The Glasgow Climate Pact acknowledged the vital role that young climate leaders are playing in driving climate action and urges countries to actively involve young people in all levels of decision making when designing and implementing climate action. The agreement also creates a permanent international youth forum on climate change for the first time.”

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