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COP26: Five takeaways as youth activists claim centre stage on day 5

Climate activists march through the streets of Glasgow, Scotland, Friday, Nov. 5, 2021
Climate activists march through the streets of Glasgow, Scotland, Friday, Nov. 5, 2021 Copyright AP Photo
Copyright AP Photo
By Euronews
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Youth and public engagement was the theme of the day and young people made their voices heard both inside and outside the summit.

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Youth and public engagement were on the agenda for day five of COP26.

There were actions true to this theme both inside and outside of the venue with thousands of young people taking to the streets of Glasgow to urge leaders to act on climate change.

We take a look at what they had to say and whether they feel their voices were heard in some of the biggest takeaways from day five of the climate summit.

1. Greta Thunberg says COP26 is 'a failure'

COP26 is a "failure," Greta Thunberg told a crowd of protesters in Glasgow on Friday, contrasting with the optimistic statements by officials over the past few days.

"It is not a secret that COP26 is a failure. It should be obvious that we cannot solve a crisis with the same methods that got us into it in the first place," she said.

The Swedish activist joined thousands of young people who had gathered outside the summit to make their voices heard. She added that we need immediate and drastic annual emissions cuts "unlike anything the world has ever seen."

DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP or licensors
Greta Thunberg speaks to protesters in Glasgow.DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP or licensors

"The people in power can continue to live in their bubble filled with their fantasies, like eternal growth on a finite planet and technological solutions that will suddenly appear seemingly out of nowhere and will erase all of these crises just like that.

"All this while the world is literally burning, on fire, and while the people living on the front lines are still bearing the brunt of the climate crisis."

Thunberg compared the summit to a “global north greenwash festival” and finished with, “this is shameful".

2. Thousands take to the streets of Glasgow to demand 'climate justice'

All eyes were on the Fridays for Future March as thousands of young activists took to the streets in Glasgow "to hold world leaders accountable and be as loud as possible about climate justice," organisers have said.

Rosie Frost/Euronews
Young people took to the streets to call on world leaders to act.Rosie Frost/Euronews

The group of thousands of young people from all over the UK and the world started in Kelvingrove Park and marched through the city to George square. Here youth activists including Greta Thunber and Vanessa Nakate spoke to the crowds.

As they marched the young people chanted, "What do we want? Climate justice! When do we want it? Now!"

Rosie Frost/Euronews
A sea of people marched through Glasgow's city centre.Rosie Frost/Euronews

They carried a sea of creative banners with slogans such as "I have to clear up my mess, why don’t you clear up yours?" and "Stop climate crimes."

3. Youth voices also take centre stage inside the summit venue

Young people raised their voices not just outside the summit venue but also inside. The COP26 Presidency said the views of over 40,000 young climate leaders were presented to ministers, negotiators and officials at a meeting today.

However, young activists said they were not sure they were being heard.

“I feel like I’m being seen,” said Brianna Fruean, a 23-year-old activist from Samoa at the beginning of the conference. But - “I will know if I’ve been heard by the end of COP.”

I will know if I’ve been heard by the end of COP.

The presidency also announced an initiative by 23 countries to "make national climate education pledges including net-zero schools and putting climate at the heart of national curriculums."

"The voices of young people must be heard and reflected in these negotiations here at COP," said COP26 president Alok Sharma.

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"The actions and scrutiny of young people are key to us keeping 1.5 alive and creating a net-zero future."

He said he was also aware of the fear and anxiety felt about the future of the planet by many young people - including his own children.

4. UN event reflects on what COP26 has achieved so far

The UN held a meeting on Friday afternoon about how "actions announced so far at Glasgow helped to bend the curve" of global warming.

The event came after two studies said on Thursday COP26 commitments could limit global warming to around 1.8C. But critics warned these projections were extremely optimistic. Some argued it was still early to put too much faith in Glasgow pledges.

PAUL ELLIS/AFP or licensors
Former US vice president and climate campaigner Al Gore delivers a speech at COP26.PAUL ELLIS/AFP or licensors

Former US Vice President Al Gore said that halfway through COP26, "much remains to be done" but "much has been achieved already, some of it in the form of pledges." Part of our job, he added, is to ensure that these pledges are fulfilled.

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"We must not declare victory," he insisted. He said that while political will was missing, it was in itself "a renewable resource. "

5. World's richest have 'free pass to pollute,' Oxfam report says

The world's richest "appear to have a free pass to pollute," a new study by Oxfam as found.

It found that the richest 1 per cent are set to have a carbon footprint 30 times higher in 2030 than what is needed to meet the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C. The results of the study, carried out by the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) and the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), come as negotiators try to keep the dream of 1.5C alive at COP26.

You might think this is millionaires or billionaires but the global 1 per cent is made up of anyone who earns over €148,878. Even those in the top 10 per cent of earners emit more than their fair share of carbon according to the report.

The poorest 50 per cent on the planet, will still emit far below a level that aligns with a 1.5C target in 2030.

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"The emissions from a single billionaire space flight would exceed the lifetime emissions of someone in the poorest billion people on Earth," says Nafkote Dabi, climate policy lead at Oxfam.

"A tiny elite appear to have a free pass to pollute. Their over-sized emissions are fuelling extreme weather around the world and jeopardising the international goal of limiting global heating."

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