Young activists disrupt Cop26 president's speech to criticise UK government 'hypocrites'

Coy16 delegates denounce plans by Boris Johnson's administration to develop oilfield off Scotland's coast

Young environmental activists disrupted a speech by Cop26 president Alok Sharma and criticised the UK government for signing off on new fossil fuel projects while demanding that the world cuts its carbon emissions.

Mr Sharma was speaking at the closing ceremony of Coy16, the youth equivalent of Cop26, on Saturday when delegates stood up and called him a “hypocrite” for the UK government's support of the Cambo oilfield, off Scotland

“Alok Sharma and the UK government are hypocrites,” said a statement read by one of the activists as others held up a green “Fridays for Future” flag.

“They are opening the new Cambo oilfield [and] they subsidise billions into fossil fuels yet won't look after the workers who need a just transition.

“Where is the support for countries in crisis as a result of our colonial history?”

The young delegates led chants from the crowd before walking out of the auditorium at Strathclyde University.

Coy16 is the official youth event for Cop26, bringing together young climate delegates from around the world.

During his speech, Mr Sharma said presented himself as an ally.

“I do see myself as part of this collective movement with you,” he said. “What we are trying to achieve is to get world leaders to commit to limiting global warming. In simple terms, that is what we are trying to do.”

Environmental campaigners have called for the scrapping of plans to begin extraction at the Cambo oilfield, which lies west of the Shetland Islands.

Cop26 is due to begin formally on Sunday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was in Rome at the weekend for a G20 summit, where he urged world leaders to come together to tackle climate change.

“Humanity, civilisation and society can go backwards as well as forwards, and when they start to go wrong, they can go wrong at extraordinary speed,” Mr Johnson said in Rome.

“Unless we get this right in tackling climate change, we could see our civilisation, our world, also go backwards. You saw that with the decline and fall of the Roman Empire.”

Mr Johnson has not struck an optimistic tone in the lead-up to the conference, saying in Rome that he still rated the chances of success in Glasgow as no more than six out of 10.

G20 countries account for about 80 per cent of both global emissions and the world's gross domestic product.

Updated: October 31st 2021, 7:57 AM
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