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Our work on the COP26 Youth Climate Programme

A blog post by Emily Arrowsmith
COP26 is hoped to be the turning point in climate change, the conference where we start to take definitive action to prevent further warming, and to achieve the 1.5 degree limit pledged in the Paris Agreement. For young people, this conference isn’t just another climate event, this is the conference that will decide their futures.
I’m working alongside our partners YouthLink Scotland and YoungScot to deliver Climate Emergency Training as part of the Scottish Government funded COP26 Youth Climate Programme. This training has initially been delivered to Youth Workers and others working with young people, to teach them about the science and policy of climate change, whilst also equipping them with skills to talk to young people about this issue, and how to engage young people in taking climate action. We have been running this training since September and have had such a variety of youth workers in many different roles, from council-based youth workers to people working in museums! Everyone has one thing in common…a drive to make a difference. While teaching this course, I have been blown away by the passion and determination of these youth workers. Those I have met are acutely aware of the urgency of this issue and are passionate to learn how they can help to do something about it. Understanding that this emergency is something that will shape the lives of those that they work with will hopefully help them to prepare the young people for this uncertain future.

I’m 23 so I still fall under the umbrella of “young person”, and I’ve really enjoyed hearing the perspectives of those who work with people like me and younger. Climate Change is an issue I grew up hearing about, but not really understanding until my late teens, it was only in my geography lessons that I learned about what has caused it and what the impacts are likely to be. I remember being in school when the Paris Agreement was signed, and thinking what a turning point it would be, only to grow up to still be waiting for governments to make good on the commitments that they made. I’m now of an age where I can make formal political choices myself to support the future I want to see, but so many young people, who are far more knowledgeable about Climate Change than I was when I was their age, are left out of the conversation.

This feeds into the other part of this programme, delivering similar Climate Emergency Training to young people. What has been so inspiring about this, is that young people have been involved in every step of the development of this training. YoungScot recruited around 50 young people as a Co-Design group for the Youth Climate Programme, and we have been lucky enough to work with some of them on developing their own Climate Emergency Training. As a young person, it has been refreshing to have young people included in this process, we have developed this from what young people have said they need from Climate Emergency Training, teaching them the science and policy, but also giving them practical advice on how to combat climate anxiety, how to debunk some of the common myths around climate change, and what they can do individually and collectively to take action.

The training that we will be offering to young people sits within a whole programme of events and activities to involve young people in the key decisions on climate change that will be made throughout COP26. One of these events was the Youth Climate Summit that was held last weekend, organised by YoungScot to create a Youth Climate Declaration to be sent to ministers ahead of COP26. I was lucky enough to be a part of this event, supporting the delivery of one of the workshops. We had such insights from young people of all ages on how we can move forward sustainably. I was astonished at the awareness that they have on all the issues, and how creative their solutions are. I’m looking forward to reading the whole Declaration, and I think this is a great opportunity for those in power to engage with young people and truly incorporate our voices into the legacy of COP26.

This has been a really exciting opportunity for us, and it is vital that we support more young people to get involved and make their voices heard, so if you or anyone you know is a Youth Worker or works with young people, we’re going to be running our training over the next few months, keep an eye out for available dates on the COP26 Youth Climate Programme page of our website.

We hope to see you there!

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