Young activists to take spotlight for a day at U.N. climate talks -Breaking
Mark John and Jake Spring
GLASGOW, Scotland (Reuters] – Activists will occupy the U.N. summit on climate in Scotland this Friday. It caps a week full of dizzying government speeches, pledges, and student marches. They also plan to bring a huge iceberg from Greenland to Glasgow’s River Clyde, where it will be used as a dramatic symbol of the Arctic’s dire situation.
The UK’s organizers gave the day to civic organizations in recognition of the work of young activists like Greta Thunberg from Sweden and Vanessa Nakate, Uganda. This was also a way to acknowledge that youth today must accept and live with the consequences of government decisions.
“We’re expecting lots of people to come and join us in the streets and not only youth but also adults supporting youth, and adults that want climate action,” said Isabelle Axelsson, 20, an activist with Thunberg’s climate movement Fridays For Future, which is organizing the march.
The COP26 negotiations in Glasgow aimed at securing sufficient national pledges to reduce greenhouse gases emissions – mainly by fossil fuels – in order to maintain a 1.5 degree Celsius rise in global temperatures. Scientists warn that crossing this threshold could lead to a climate crisis.
While the COP26 summit so far has produced agreements to reduce coal use, curb deforestation, and curb methane emissions, it is still unclear what this voluntary initiative would do to mitigate rising temperatures.
The head of the International Energy Agency, Fatih Birol, said on Thursday that emissions cut pledges made so far – if all implemented – could potentially hold warming to 1.8 C. But some U.N. negotiators said that assessment was too rosy.
Al Gore, former Vice President of the United States and Alok Sharma, President of the UK COP26 will meet Friday to talk with leaders from civil society about the achievements so far as well as what needs to be done in the coming week.
Arctic Basecamp founder Professor Gail Whiteman said that she wanted to add urgency to Friday’s discussions by using an enormous iceberg to represent her vision.
According to her, the group shipped the iceberg from Greenland through Iceland to England’s east coast and on to Canada via a truck that went to the River Clyde.
“Studies are showing that if we lose the snow and ice in the Arctic we will amplify global warming by 25 to 40%,” she said. “We felt that negotiators here had to actually come face to face with the Arctic, so we brought the iceberg.”
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