A call to combat climate change

Let's amplify young voices through a Model COP for innovative climate solutions

As the curtains rose on the 28th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), also known as COP-28, history unfolded. On the very first day, states party to the UNFCCC agreed to a Loss and Damage Fund to aid weaker states with a small carbon footprint disproportionately affected by climate change.

The tidings of the Fund came at the previous COP and materialized this year. As crucial as this is for climate-affected states, those with large Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions must seriously consider moving away from fossil fuels. Burning fossil fuels is a significant contributor to the elevated GHG levels in the atmosphere.

Climate change analysts and environmentalists emphasize this point. Recently, climate change has gained prominence due to rapid global changes. According to Ahmed Rafay, an environmental lawyer based in Lahore, emissions since the industrial revolution started centuries ago account for less than 50% of GHGs in the atmosphere. The remaining emissions have been added to the atmosphere after 1980.

In the past 43 years, we’ve added more GHGs to the atmosphere than in the past three and a half centuries. This reality demands collective pondering and immediate action. Climate change respects no boundaries; it affects everyone regardless of nationality, race, religion, creed, or ethnicity.

This matter needs serious attention to restrict the rise of global temperature to 1.5℃ instead of the current projection of over 2.0℃. Delaying debate and action is futile; climate change is an undeniable reality.

Young climate activists have significantly contributed to raising awareness. Platforms for young people, such as the recent Model OIC (MOIC) Conference on Climate Change held at the Institute of Regional Studies (IRS), are effective in fostering learning and expressing opinions. The MOIC, a mock OIC conference, allows states to debate, formulate working papers, and pass resolutions and declarations.

A formal OIC conference official emphasized the importance of including the voice of young people at these forums. The recommendations of an MOIC are forwarded to the OIC by the Foreign Office of the respective state, which can then be discussed in an official OIC session of member states.

The Model UN and MOIC model can be replicated for COP as well; a Model COP (MCOP) sponsored by the UNFCCC and held in its member states a few months before the actual COP. This will allow the input of young climate activists, scholars, and students in the most important conference on climate change.

Ideas from vibrant young minds can prove most helpful in combating climate change. Being a part of the MOIC, I witnessed firsthand how young minds are a treasure trove of innovative and inspiring ideas. However, these ideas are often lost between the youth and the officials in power. A platform to propel these ideas to the top will work wonders in combating climate change.

It is the children and young who will live in this world 10 years from now, 100 years from now; it is only right that they have a say in matters that directly affect their future.

Sahil Yar Muhammad
Sahil Yar Muhammad
The writer is a freelance contributor with a Masters in International Relations and can be reached at [email protected].

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