Zero Carbon Guildford will be hosting Mock COP26, a recreation of the climate summit COP26, with local Surrey schools each adopting the position of a delegate country.
The official COP26 will be held in Glasgow in November 2021. In the run up to this event we are partnering with Surrey EcoSchools, the University of Surrey, and Guildford Borough Council to host this event, with the aim of increasing participation in climate action in the borough, whilst empowering students to gain some of the experience that ambitious policy makers of the future will need to mitigate the climate and ecological emergency. We need a minimum number of schools to make this event worthwhile, so chat to your school today and tell them to get in touch!
What Does This Project Achieve?
What Is COP26
You’ve likely heard of the Paris Agreement, the global climate accord which was struck in 2015, with 196 countries committing to limit global temperature rise to 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and ideally 1.5°C. Well the Paris Agreement was the outcome of COP21 - or 21st Conference Of The Parties - held in France.
The Paris Agreement was an ambitious piece of policy, and was widely hailed as a game changing success in the race to mitigate climate breakdown. However, the Agreement is just words on paper, and since then almost every country who ratified the accord is failing to meet their obligations.
In fact, of those 196 countries, only 17 are either on target, or have implemented policy to achieve their targets. Worse, some of the world’s worst offenders - the US, Russia, Saudi Arabia - are driving us toward a 4 degree warmer world, a level which most climate models predict to be catastrophic for a majority of life on earth.
Only 1 country is meeting their target for limiting heating to 1.5°C. Take a bow Morocco.
And this is a critical point. The difference between 1.5°C warming and 2° is staggering, as the infographic below shows. The extra half a degree will have an enormous impact on crop yields, pollinator numbers, the coastal defences provided by coral reefs, heat death, and arctic sea ice, the loss of which will affect albedo at the poles, meaning increased heat absorption by the oceans and further runaway warming.
Of even greater significance though is the fact that 2° warming is associated with levels of 450ppm atmospheric CO2. Climate models show that at this threshold, it becomes significantly more likely that we will trigger climate system tipping points. It’s important to understand that climate systems are regulated by feedback loops, specifically positive feedback loops, in which an increase in one variable drives increases in others. So when we hit a tipping point the net effect is a runaway escalation leading to eventual collapse of the system.
So despite being hailed a success, countries are failing to live up to their promises, and driving ecological collapse and climate breakdown. It cannot be overstated how drastically we need to reimagine ways in which we live and work to avoid the worst of the climate emergency, yet very little has changed since Paris, and we are still locked in an economic model which doesn’t even acknowledge that we operate in the biosphere, let alone take steps to protect it from accelerating destruction.
In addition, thousands of lobbyists are invited to every COP. This means that with the lobbyists of big oil and other polluting industries pressuring delegates in real time the outcome of COP is dramatically skewed in favour of vested interests, thus preventing the change needed to avoid a 2° plus planet.
This also means that solutions which offer nothing in the way of climate change mitigation are trumpeted throughout COP. The event has now become an exercise in simply promting ineffective schemes which allow the world's richest and most polluting companies to keep jeopardising our future. At COP25 this was best seen in the constant promotion of 'Carbon Markets', which vested interests attempted to frame as a climate change solution, but inreality simply offset their emissions to allow them to continue generating, and even escalating, their CO2 emissions.
The solution to this is pretty obvious, and we want to see a summit that’s not set up to fail! We’re taking the lobbyists out of the equation, and letting the generation who have the most at stake do the thinking. Our message to global governments is clear. If the kids can do it, why can’t you.
What Problem Is This Addressing?
Many people feel the Conference Of Parties is set up to fail, with the presence of so many lobbyists for oil & gas and other polluting industries present. Additionally, the lack of legal implications to date allow countries to be 'all mouth and no trousers' when delivering on thier promises.
How Our COP26 Will Work
Each participating school will be assigned a country (or countries if a school has lots of keen students!) to represent at random prior to COP26, this year held in Glasgow, from 1st Nov - 12th Nov.
The students spend the month leading up to the mock-COP researching the impact of the climate & ecological crisis on their designated country, the socio-environmental impacts of policy responses between ambitious climate action versus no action, the costs of adopting various policies, and finally settling on the policy position they feel most benefits their country.
Each school will get a mentor who will help with research and planning
During the first half of the event each ‘country’ will put forward policy proposals that are most appropriate to counter the ecological and climate-related threats that their country faces
The second half of the debate will focus on negotiating the most effective ways to achieve a global accord to tackle accelerating threat of the climate & ecological emergency
We will host a number of events for the students in the weeks prior to the event. The first of these are scheduled during Great Big Green Week, but keep checking back for updated workshops and talks.
Benefits Of Mock COP26
This event will focus on education of the generation that stands to be most impacted by the climate and ecological crisis, as well as engagement of the wider community. We hope that it will help people to understand the importance of an immediate, well managed, just transformation of the systems which are driving ecological collapse.
Moreover we hope it will help to inspire our community to begin collaborative work on mitigation of and adaptation to climate breakdown. Our window to act is limited, and as such we need to bring as many people with us, forming a community led plan which marries positive action with realistic resilience planning.
If the event is successful we hope that we’ll be able to partner with the borough council to build a longer term Surrey Youth Climate Council, an ongoing programme to drive engagement & education on climate change.
There are many educational benefits for the schools and students getting involved with Mock COP26. Involvement in a mock COP event is a cross-curricular activity but will particularly link with Geography and the Humanities, Science, PHSE, English, Maths, and pastoral programmes, helping students to develop practical & transferable skills, including;
Speaking & listening
Research skills - incl framing the research project, conducting research, evaluating results, formatting conclusion etc
Tolerating different points of view & reaching consensus
Meeting and socialising with fellow students
Additionally, participation in this event can count towards the EcoSchools Green Flag Award, so we think there’s a whole host of reasons for schools to get involved!
How Can You Help?
As with everything Zero Carbon Guildford does, we would love you to get involved in the Mock COP event! There are loads of ways that you can support the event, from community engagement to volunteering on the day to sound & power to mentoring one of the schools (all mentors will be given training and a Mentor Pack, so you don’t need to be a climate scientist to take this on!). So if you’d like to be involved with helping our younger generation get a taste of the skills and experience they’ll need for ambitious climate action then get in touch with us today.