COP26 – A new generation takes the baton

After weeks of work preparing for COP26, culminating in an intense fortnight of activities in Glasgow, the Brahma Kumaris delegation has left Scotland to return home.

They stayed in the beautiful rural surroundings of Linlithgow, making the daily round trip into the city mostly by public transport. Logistical support was provided by the BKs of Inner Space, a focal point for meditation in this former industrial centre once famed for its shipyards.

The beautiful surroundings of Linlithgow, where the delegation stayedBut the outcome of COP26 – the Glasgow Climate Pact – fell short. Indeed, “disappointed” was the word chosen by many delegates in the Hall during the final sessions. Diplomatic language for frustration, and anger, it indicated their dismay.

A last-minute intervention by India to dilute the provision on fossil fuels from “phasing out” to “phasing down” almost capsized the Pact in the final furlong.

Representatives of small island developing states – and of the EU – could not hide their anguish. The young woman delegate from the Maldives said: “The difference between 2C and 1.5C is a death sentence.”

And if it was a miracle that fossil fuels were mentioned at all, for the first time in a UN climate agreement, there was also widespread concern about inadequate financial provisions, and the requirement to revisit commitments to reduce emissions and return with enhanced pledges at COP27 in Egypt next year, which builds in months of delay.

As one commentator, speaking on BBC News said, this was a “generational failure” by politicians.

Making our voices heard

Yet Glasgow also showed how strong is the voice of ordinary people, and how they are organizing to get their message across fearlessly and eloquently.

This is undoubtedly true of interfaith groups, and of the young.

In a final message to the Conference, YOUNGO delegates questioned whether leaders and negotiators were listening to them, and if the decisions were made taking their needs and priorities into account.

“What kind of decision have you adopted today?” asked one “This does not keep 1.5 alive.”

Earlier in the week, at the launch of the Youth Task Force for Stockholm +50, marking fifty years since the start of international diplomatic efforts for the environment, there was a clear undertaking to listen to youth.

Facilitator for the event was Shantanu Mandal, BK youth representative to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Major Group for Children and Youth.

The Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment (1972), which led to the establishment of UNEP, was a watershed, Sweden’s Minister for the Environment and Climate, Per Bolund said. Young people were part of the process then, and must be involved with planning for next year’s gathering.

In an impassioned speech, Swedish youth delegate Amanda Bjorksell (seen below with Shantanu Mandal) said there must be broad representation of young people from an early stage.

They are demanding system change, a fair transition and true sustainability, she said. Referring to the leadership of Sweden in holding the 1972 Conference, she noted (then Prime Minister) Olaf Palme showed true bravery, and this is needed once again. In a clear challenge to today’s politicians, she added: You need to listen and to be brave!







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