Amelia Turk, Australian Youth Rep, reports from COP28

Amelia Turk, a Fremantle youth who is finishing year 12 at John Curtin College of the Arts, is at the world’s largest climate conference, COP28, in Dubai, UAE representing Australian Youth. Amelia kindly brings us this up-to-the-minute report on what can we expect to see at COP28.

The world is changing: climate change is impacting all our lives, including ours in Fremantle.

Each year, thousands of people come together to attend the Conference Of the Parties for Climate Change – or COP for short. Held towards the end of each year, its primary aim is to collaborate and determine how to accelerate action on the climate emergency, on a range of issues from mitigation to human rights and finance.

This year, we are at COP28, 28 years after the first COP in Berlin. This year’s conference is being held in Dubai, UAE from 30 November to 12 December. It is expected to be the largest COP ever, with over 70,000 delegates from all around the world, representing governments, businesses, media and civil society, including children and youth.

Amelia Turk with the Conference of Youth policy team, COP28

In amongst these 70,000 delegates, there will be between 80 and 100 Australian youth present. I will be attending the entirety of the COP, having been lucky enough to have received funding from local organisations Millennium Kids and UN Youth WA, and to have been very kindly offered a badge (a kind of entry pass for the venue) from Macquarie University.

I will be representing various Australian youth organisations, making sure that Australian youth voices are heard, in amongst the thousands of other youth delegates.

As a collective, we will be pushing for greater climate action, greater youth involvement and fighting for the implementation of the Loss and Damage Fund, along with demanding strong outcomes as a result of the first Global Stocktake, a synthesis of the world’s advancements towards climate action, which is a mandated part of the Paris Agreement.

YOUNGO is the official youth constituency of the UNFCCC – the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. With over 11,000 current individual members and including 1000 organisations, YOUNGO represents the youth of the world and provides power in numbers to youth. This year, we have a children and youth pavilion at COP, a space dedicated to the voices of children and youth, as well as several headline events throughout the two weeks.

To help with our advocacy, we have been working over the year to create the Global Youth Statement, the main policy document synthesised by YOUNGO with inputs from youth from all around the world, which is produced in the lead up to COP. With 18 thematics covered, including the main negotiating tracks such as Finance, Mitigation and Adaptation, and more cross-cutting themes such as Conflict of Interest and Child Rights, the Global Youth Statement will be the basis of many youth demands and actions during COP28.

As part of the process of creating the Global Youth Statement, 104 Local Conferences of Youth (LCOYs) were held around the world, including in Australia. These were co-hosted by Monash Sustainable Development Institute and UNICEF Australia, with the guidance of the Australian LCOY Leadership Council, consisting of 8 Australian young people already engaged in the international climate advocacy space, of which I am a member. We held 1 online and 4 in-person conferences. The inputs from these conferences were used to guide the National Children and Youth Statement, which will be presented to Australian decisionmakers in Canberra and at COP28.

Amelia Turk

So, I’ve mentioned what youth want to get out of COP. But we are, after all, Australian. So, what is Australia planning for COP? And who will be representing Australia this year?

Every year, each party sends a delegation to the conference, to negotiate on behalf of the government. In the first two days, world leaders themselves meet at the World Climate Action Summit (WCAS), where there is typically the highest-level attendance, with presidents, prime ministers and monarchs.

This year, just like last year, it has been confirmed that most countries will have their head of state present; Australia will not. Mr Albanese has decided that he has been on too many international trips this year, thus meaning that the highest-level delegate of Australia is the Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen. He, however, will only be attending the second week, as will the Assistant Minister Jenny McAllister, who is leading the talk on the Global Goal on Adaptation.

So, the question remains, who will represent Australia at the WCAS? At the final Australian delegate briefing, there was no definitive answer, although it is possible that it will be the head of Australia’s delegation, Dr Sally Box.

Additionally, there will be hundreds of Australians present throughout COP28 representing local, state and federal government, civil society, youth, businesses (including mining companies), and the media.

I expect to hear many discussions about all sorts of themes to do with Climate Change.

I look forward to following the progress of Child Rights and Action for Climate Empowerment, along with the Loss and Damage Fund.

I am curious to see Australia’s stance and hope that an action-ready reputation for Australia can continue to grow.

* By Amelia Turk, an Australian Youth representative at COP28


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