‘We’re the last generation that can stop this’: The youth climate activist representing the UK
Written by Hit Music Radio News on 05/08/2021
Tropical lightening storms. 30C heat. Flooding. Landslides. This may not sound like Scotland to you, but these are the impacts of climate change that Dylan Hamilton now associates with his country.
The 16 year-old activist has been selected to represent the UK at a UN youth climate event in September. He and nearly 400 other young people will draw up proposals for ministers attending the pre-COP26 climate change talks.
Why does it matter?
“Because it’s going to be our generation that feel the biggest impact and we’re also the last generation that can really stop this,” he says.
Like many countries, the UK has pledged by 2050 to reach net zero – achieved when human-caused greenhouse gas emissions are balanced by active emissions removals. By which point, Dylan will still only be 46 years old.
“It’s very much within my lifetime,” he says. “And so if we don’t do what’s needed right now, it’s going to be all of us [youth ambassadors] that feel the impacts of it.”
Two summers ago, temperatures hit 30 degrees while he was hiking in the Highlands. “It wasn’t so much ‘oh, wow, this is so hot!’ as it was ‘this doesn’t feel right. It should not be this hot here.'”
He has some hopes, but “a lot of fears” for the COP26 November climate negations in Glasgow, including that fossil fuel companies will have the final say.
“They’re not being treated as how they should be,” he claims. “They’re being involved in the discussions as if their needs are equivalent to the needs of people who are dying right now from climate change.”
The UK’s oil and gas industry says it wants to see a “managed and fair transition” from fossil fuels, but the International Energy Agency recently said there should be no new oil and gas exploration if we are to reach net zero by 2050.
His other worry is about COVID-19 threatening inclusivity of the negotiations, where all of the nearly 200 countries that have signed up to the UN’s climate body are supposed to have a seat at the table.
“The [UK] government keeps saying that they want this to be the most inclusive COP ever, and it’s really not looking like it’s going to be even remotely close to that.”
Global figures recently warned Sky News that unequitable COVID-19 vaccine access was a threat to COP26 climate talks.
As for his hopes, he’s holding out for a renewal of the Paris Agreement.
“So hopefully we get even more radical action than we saw [in Paris]. And this time countries actually follow it.”
Sky News has launched the first daily prime time news show dedicated to climate change.
The Daily Climate Show is broadcast at 6.30pm and 9.30pm Monday to Friday on Sky News, the Sky News website and app, on YouTube and Twitter.
Hosted by Anna Jones, it follows Sky News correspondents as they investigate how global warming is changing our landscape and how we all live our lives.
The show also highlights solutions to the crisis and how small changes can make a big difference.
© Sky News 2020