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Harriet Thew


Harriet Thew 

Job title

COP26 Research Fellow  

Area of work and why it’s important:

I focus on climate change education and youth participation. It is increasingly recognised that younger generations have an important role to play in climate change governance. The global youth population is large and growing, offering tremendous potential for mobilisation on climate action whilst simultaneously faced with significant and unique vulnerabilities to climate impacts. Younger generations require interdisciplinary climate change education and the facilitation of participatory opportunities at all levels in all sectors to build their capacity to contribute to mitigation and adaptation efforts around the world. 

Harriet is a COP26 Research Fellow. This video explains her project:

What will you be doing at COP26?

At COP26 I will be closely following the negotiations on Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) which relate to climate change education, training, public awareness, public access to information, public participation and international cooperation on these issues. A new work programme will be negotiated in Glasgow which will provide guidance on how to enhance the implementation of these topics. In addition, I am contributing to several side events on climate change education and youth participation, including the world premiere of the Ripple Effect film.  

What are your hopes for the COP26 negotiations?

My hope for COP26 is that Action for Climate Empowerment policy receives the recognition, support and finance it deserves. For example, I would like to see a commitment from governments and international institutions that all climate finance will include provision of ring-fenced funds for implementation of ACE activities at the local level. Rather than funding international technical “experts” to fly in, a key goal in the provision of climate finance should be to build the capacity of local communities to deliver and maintain adaptation and mitigation projects in their local areas.  

Regarding the negotiations as a whole, for COP26 to be considered a success, all Parties must make good on their previous commitments. Most important is for them to commit to and demonstrate feasible ways to implement emissions reductions which will enable the world to stay on track to remain below 1.5 degrees of warming. Secondly, “developed” countries must mobilise a minimum of $100bn of new and additional climate finance a year, as they promised in Copenhagen in 2009.  

Any tips for readers about climate action?

For me, climate action is about finding a likeminded group of people and working with them to create the changes you want to see in the world. Focusing on individual carbon footprints overshadows the very real need for deep structural change so it is important to engage in collective action. The climate movement is very broad and there is plenty of room for everyone, whatever your interests are. To find your niche within this exciting and dynamic global movement, think about what you like to do, what you are good at and what you want to get out of the experience. The benefits could be individual e.g. developing new skills, making new friends around the world, or learning more about your neighbourhood, but the actions should be collective and this includes putting pressure on policy makers and businesses who hold the levers of change. 

Anything else you want us to know?

Please read my policy brief on youth participation if you are thinking of involving young people in your climate events!