Members of members of Project 90 by 2030 and African Climate Alliance at the Uproot The DMRE (Department of Mineral Resources and Energy) protest in Cape Town earlier this year. Picture: LARRY LIU/Supplied
Members of members of Project 90 by 2030 and African Climate Alliance at the Uproot The DMRE (Department of Mineral Resources and Energy) protest in Cape Town earlier this year. Picture: LARRY LIU/Supplied

Cape Town youth dismiss COP26 as 'much of the same'

By Kristin Engel Time of article published Nov 18, 2021

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Cape Town - Reflecting on the past 25 COPs (Conference of Parties), young climate activists said COP26 was much the same with very little action aside from promises and declarations made by leaders and representatives.

Project 90 by 2030 spokesperson Gabriel Klaasen said “COP26 was billed to be ‘the most important COP’ in the weeks leading up to the event. Looking back and on closer reflection, we see that aside from the strengthened grassroots movement that emerged from the event, this gathering was destined to be the same as its predecessors.”

Klaasen said it was no surprise that with the largest delegation at the Glasgow Conference coming from the fossil fuel industry, most affected areas and people, youth and other marginalised communities were undermined and their voices suppressed.

African Climate Alliance (ACA), another youth-led climate justice organisation, had their youth ambassadors representing them at COP26, one of these being Dorothy Mwale, who said COP26 was a wonderful experience, but felt there was not a lot of youth inclusivity.

“In the side events we were able to communicate and talk to decision-makers, but that’s not where the decision lies. Youth still need a position, a seat at the table,” said Mwale.

ACA team and youth activist network said looking back at COP26, they were not overly surprised by the way things turned out, and that it was an overall disappointment.

“What could have been an opportunity to listen to marginalised voices and take definitive actions, was ultimately a parade of false promises and ‘goals’ that are not sufficient to combat the climate crisis. While some progress was made, the conference was primarily dominated by green-washing and inaction,” said the group.

Klaasen said the conference had again proved it was not sincere about including the voices that should be leading the conversation, yet continued to push the narrative that it was inclusive and valued their input.

“It is not surprising that youth across the globe are frustrated by the dismissive way in which our delegates, observers and activists at the conference were engaged,” said Klaasen.

This opinion was echoed in a protest last week by the Climate Justice Charter Movement (CJCM) against lack of the implementation of the Climate Justice Charter, supported by 260 organisations, to address continued use of oil, gas and coal to power South Africa.

CJCM activist Vishwas Satgar said a young person would face seven to eight climate extremes in their lifetime, and therefore it was no surprise that youth were at the forefront of the struggle towards climate justice.

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