Canadian kids react to climate promises made at COP26

Story by CBC Kids News • 2021-11-09 06:00

Two-week conference aims to help solve the climate crisis


Canadian kids are keeping a close eye on world leaders who are coming together to help solve the climate crisis in Glasgow, Scotland, this week.

COP26 — or Conference of the Parties — is a massive conference organized by the United Nations in which countries must show what they've done so far and what they will keep doing to help save the planet.

The two-week conference is at the halfway mark, and big promises have been made to keep global temperatures from rising above 1.5 C by 2030.

Young Canadians are also involved, including kids attending the conference and those back in Canada.

They are learning about climate change and trying to put pressure on world leaders to make real promises.

CBC Kids News spoke to three young people about their thoughts on COP26.

“[Justin Trudeau] needs to show that he is going to listen and do things … instead of just listening and ignoring.” - Kiona Friesen, age 14

Sadie Vipond, age 15, from Calgary, Alberta

a girl in front of a fountain with a sign that says

Sadie Vipond took part in a huge climate march while in Scotland attending COP26. (Image credit: Kyle Bakx/CBC)

What she’s doing to help the planet

Sadie is one of 15 youths suing the Canadian government for not acting on climate change.

She also attended the first week of COP26 for a documentary that's being filmed about her and her activism.

Sadie's thoughts on COP26

For Sadie, the most memorable part of her trip was participating in two massive climate strikes.

“There were so many people and it just felt really quite powerful, and it felt like I was part of something that was really quite bigger than myself,” she told CBC Kids News.

Huge crowds in the streets with signs and flags

Thousands of people took part in a Fridays for Future march in Glasgow, Scotland, on Nov. 5. (Image credit: Yves Herman/Reuters)

But she said now world leaders have to step up.

“Many pretty words were thrown around, but we need to hold our governments accountable…. To have concrete action.”

Sadie attended a gathering of women from South America, which she described as “heartbreaking.”

“People from Brazil were talking about deforestation and how the forests are a huge part of their communities,” she said. “Seeing the forest cut down and seeing roads built without the community's consent … is crazy.”

Walelasoetxeige Paiter Bandeira Surui, an Indigenous activist from Brazil, poses for a photograph on the sidelines at COP26. (Image credit: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images)

World leaders from 100 countries pledged to end deforestation by 2030, including Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro.

But Sadie questioned if he would live up to it, given all the other broken promises since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015.

“2030 is still nine years away,” she said. “That still means that there will still be quite a bit of deforestation. And so that doesn't mean that deforestation won't go up.”

Zahra Kermalli, age 12, from Richmond Hill, Ontario

Zahra Kermalli, right, poses with her sister and brother after taking part in a challenge to put together the world’s longest chain of paper snowflakes. (Image credit: Earth Rangers)

What she’s doing to help the planet

Zahra is part of a group called the Earth Rangers, a national kids’ conservation organization based in Woodbridge, Ontario.

She, her sister and hundreds of other Canadian kids made paper snowflakes out of scrap pieces of paper and wrote down their thoughts on climate change in recent weeks.

“I wrote a lot of messages about what I hope,” Zahra told CBC Kids News.

They put them together and broke the Guinness World Record title for the longest chain of paper snowflakes on Nov. 1.

“I like to participate in these things because it helps me feel like I'm being involved in something and I'm participating in something that has a purpose,” said Zahra.

A paper snowflake with the words

Kids from across Canada wrote their thoughts about climate change on paper snowflakes and broke the Guinness World Record for the longest chain of paper snowflakes. (Image credit: Earth Rangers)

Zahra’s thoughts on COP26

Zahra said it’s important for countries to come together and make long-term commitments, but she said more specific things need to be done.

“I wish they would include everyone else in it,” she said.

“Maybe they could consider entirely stopping the production of single-use plastics or, like, provide a more eco-friendly way of transportation for citizens.”

Kiona Friesen, age 14, from Leamington, Ontario

A teen stands in front of her class in a classroom

Kiona Friesen has been following the events at COP26 in her Grade 9 science class. (Image credit: Lisa Jeffery)

What she’s doing to help the planet

Kiona is part of the EcoTeam, an environmental club at her high school.

Last week, she read an update from COP26 during morning announcements.

Kiona used information her science teacher provided, as well as some of her own research, to write the announcement.

Her topic was a commitment made at COP26 by bankers, insurers and investors from around the world worth $130 trillion who pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

A girl speaks into a microphone

Kiona made a school announcement about a major financial commitment at COP26. (Image credit: Lisa Jeffery)

“When I announced it, I was having people afterwards saying to me, like, ‘Did you read that number, right?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I read the number right,’” Kiona told CBC Kids News. “And people were shocked about that.”

Kiona’s thoughts on COP26

Kiona also watched some of the speeches from the conference, including one from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Justin Trudeau speaks into a microphone

At COP26, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, ‘To young people marching in our streets in cities around the world, we hear you. It’s true, your leaders need to do better.’ (Image credit: Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

“One of the main things that I heard from [him] was like, he said, ‘We need to do more and we need to do it faster,’” Kiona said.

“And that is true. People need to stop just, like, saying things and act on them,” she said.

But she challenged Trudeau to follow up on his promises.

“He said, ‘We hear you’ to people like me and to Indigenous groups,” Kiona said.

“So now people need to watch to see if he hears us, then he needs to show that he is going to listen and do things … instead of just listening and ignoring.”

COP26 ends on Nov. 12.

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