16 November 2021
Speaking at the COP26 conference, Barack Obama pleaded with all in attendance to work together to ‘give the planet a fighting chance.’
We all understand the issue at hand is the health of our planet, and meaningful progress must be made. Like many at this year’s COP26 event, Obama made a promise of further progress and the need for collective action now.
One collective action that has caught the attention over the past years is the youth movement, most notably being Greta Thunberg and school strikes. Scanning the crowds of visitors at COP26 it was inspiring to see so many young people making their voices heard, and rightly so. They are the ones who will inherit the impact of climate change.
Until recently, the young people at LiC had not heard of COP26 or fully understood the climate crisis. This is one of the reasons why we feel that our newest climate-focused youth programme is so essential. Be.Green is a climate leadership program for young people aged 16-18, which exposes them to workshops from experts in the field and then provides support for them to develop their own climate campaign.
For some young people climate change can certainly feel like it’s too big of a problem to solve, particularly when individual sacrifices can seem tiny compared to the behaviour of huge corporations and governments. The size of the problem seems even more unsurmountable if they are facing their own barriers such as poor housing, caring responsibilities or poverty.
Whilst these and other barriers are essential in understanding young people’s varying engagement in climate change we must continue to build a global solution to the biggest issue of our generation and be sure to bring all corners of society with us. We must try and give the planet and the next generation a fighting chance and in this fight we all have a part to play.
For our part, as Leaders in Community (LiC), we set out to empower our east London young people in our first Be.Green cohort, by taking them to the events held at COP26 in Glasgow. LiC is privileged to inspire a generation here in east London to tackle the climate change emergency. We hope this will cause a ripple effect as they share their experience with their family and friends.
The two-day trip was filled with seminars, including looking at the feminist approach to tackling the climate crisis and meeting many like-minded community organisers. The group attended demonstrations and global marches with activists from around the world. They even squeezed in some sightseeing in Edinburgh. Most importantly, our young people learned about how nations plan to progress to a low carbon future. Countries will update their emission target regularly, allowing governments to get the resources to adapt, especially those most vulnerable to climate change.
As a youth charity our focus is always on how to improve the lives of the young people in our local area and provide them with opportunities to live a fulfilled life. With climate change being a source of anxiety and fear for so many young people, we have been asking ourselves what more we can do as an organisation.
When it comes to young people and climate change our ambition is to give young people a fighting chance and to us that means giving them the knowledge, tools and support to drive local climate action and hold those with power in our local communities to account. Through Be.Green and other strands of our work we hope to help local young people get their voices heard and campaign for a better future.
Leaders in Community