It’s Monday, November 30, and young activists are filling a void created by the U.N.
COVID-19 delayed the United Nations’ annual climate summit by a whole year. But it hasn’t stopped youth climate activists from holding their own version of the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26).
Since November 19, more than 350 youth delegates from 146 countries have been convening virtually for Mock COP26, a virtual summit meant to fill the void created by COP26’s postponement. For several hours each day, they’ve attended online workshops, panels, and discussions as they craft a formal statement of policy demands. When the conference ends on Tuesday, they’ll deliver the statement Nigel Topping, one of the “High Level Climate Action Champions” that the U.N. designated to engage with stakeholders and promote climate action ahead of COP26.
An environmental law nonprofit has been helping the delegates polish their demands into a legal document that could, hypothetically, be adopted into law by the delegates’ home countries. But even if that doesn’t happen, Iris Zhan, a 16-year-old climate activist who helped organize the conference, said she hopes it will send a clear message to world leaders: Center the needs of the global south, don’t allow fossil fuel interests to direct the conference, and, of course, listen to the youth climate movement.
“If COP was youth-led,” she said, “we would make so much more progress than we have in the last decade.”
As part of its efforts to roll back environmental regulations before President-elect Joe Biden enters office, the Trump administration is hoping to finalize a rule loosening protections for migratory birds. The rollback would reduce penalties for companies and developers that accidentally kill migratory birds.
According to a new report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the owners and operators of more than half a million diesel pickup trucks have illegally disabled their trucks’ emissions control technology. By installing illegal “defeat devices” to trick the emissions control monitors, those truck drivers have added the equivalent of 9 million extra trucks’ worth of emissions into the atmosphere over the past decade.
The EPA has finalized a rule lifting the requirement that oil and gas, chemical, and mining companies have insurance to cover the cost of cleaning up accidents or major spills. The agency argued that modern industry practices and existing state and federal regulations are enough to prevent accidents.