Youth Demands for COP26

Loss and Damage Youth Coalition

As COP26 approaches, governments around the world are not on track to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. In fact, the UK government itself is supporting fossil fuel expansion through the proposed Cumbria coal mine and the Cambo oil field, despite the science that indicates fossil fuel expansion is not compatible with a safe climate.

Fossil fuel companies have profited immensely from the extraction of coal, oil, and gas, and have lobbied politicians to continue growing their corporate profits at the expense of the public good. Meanwhile, communities at the frontlines of the climate crisis are suffering the loss of lives and livelihoods, and damages to homes and infrastructure. 

Loss and damage from climate change is not a future problem—it is happening now. The increasing frequency and severity of climate disasters like flooding, hurricanes, and wildfires are impacting people around the world at a scale never seen before. One estimate put the global cost of loss and damage from climate change at $210 billion in 2020 alone, which doesn’t account for losses that can’t be measured with money. While we are all affected by climate change, countries and communities in the Global South1 are disproportionately impacted. Despite contributing very little to climate change, the poorest people in the world are being hit hardest by it, and have fewer resources to cope with loss and damage.

During years of negotiations, wealthy countries have consistently turned their backs to countries in need and effectively blocked any requests for loss and damage finance. Wealthy countries have contributed the most to the escalating climate crisis through their historical and ongoing pollution. The biggest polluting countries and companies owe a climate debt to the Global South, and providing finance and technical support for loss and damage is the very least wealthy countries should do.

Current governments are leaving an unsafe climate to young people and future generations. The IPCC report from August 2021 has sounded an alarm on what scientists and climate advocates have known for years: that human influence has unequivocally warmed the planet, and that climate-induced loss and damage will become even more severe and frequent in the coming years. We fear for our future and for the futures of our children. We mourn the loss of biodiversity, ecosystems and species. We are angry that our generation must bear this burden when the science was clear decades ago

The Loss and Damage Youth Coalition calls for an end to the hypocrisy and the denial of our right to a safe climate. We call on global leaders to rectify this intergenerational injustice. COP26 must mark the end to inaction on loss and damage. We call on governments to:

  1. Stop the delay, denial, and blocking of progress – act now on loss and damage!

Governments must urgently take action on loss and damage at the international, national, and local levels. L&D must become a permanent agenda item at all UNFCCC negotiations so it never slips off the list of priorities. 

  1. Make loss and damage a priority at COP26 by appointing a L&D Champion.

The UK COP26 presidency should appoint an L&D champion to push for progress at COP26 and beyond. This appointee must create space for discussion and action addressing the needs of Global South countries and communities. The L&D Champion must listen to the demands of youth and frontline communities most affected by climate change impacts. 

  1. Pledge a trillion dollars in finance for loss and damage over the next five years.

Loss and damage is already costing hundreds of billions of dollars each year, and in Global South countries is expected to reach $300-600 billion annually by 2030. Delivering a trillion dollars over five years would support countries in the Global South to address loss and damage at the current and future scale of the need. Wealthy governments must pledge new and additional public finance in the form of grants, not loans, and it must reach affected countries and communities as soon as they are impacted. Loss and damage finance must come in addition to adaptation and development finance.

  1. Tax big polluters to pay for loss and damage. 

The industries and corporations most responsible for causing the climate crisis must pay for loss and damage. As part of a just transition away from fossil fuels, governments must tax fossil fuel companies on every unit of fossil fuel extracted, and use this money to pay for loss and damage. Frontline communities facing the worst climate-induced L&D impacts must be compensated for the damage big polluters have caused and continue to cause.

  1. Operationalise a Santiago Network on Loss and Damage that works for the people.

Ensure that the Santiago Network is operationalised in a just and equitable way that provides timely and adequate technical assistance, knowledge and resources on the ground to countries and communities particularly vulnerable to L&D impacts. The process of operationalising the Santiago Network must be party-driven and serve the needs of the countries most affected by L&D. 

  1. Centre youth voices in Loss and Damage negotiations.

Include global youth, particularly those from the Global South and historically excluded communities, in L&D negotiations. The UNFCCC should set up a youth advisory committee on loss and damage to formulate a vision and plan to address climate impacts in a meaningful way.


1When we say Global South, we refer to low-income developing countries that are recipients of climate finance. When we say wealthy countries, we are referring to industrialized countries with large economies. There is no one way to refer to groupings of countries that adequately reflects the complex differences between them, so these categories serve as approximations. They align closely with the UNFCCC country groupings into Annex I (developed) and non-Annex I (developing) countries.

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