Young people have a lot to lose from climate change, so when COP26 decided that coal would be phased down instead of out, it felt like “betrayal” to many.

Students from Bristol and Bath said the resolution’s lack of urgency was “frightening and upsetting”. A recent study has shown immediate government inaction on climate issues is “inextricably linked” to “eco anxiety” in people under the age of 25.

A Bath University researcher said the plan would exacerbate young people’s anxieties about the environment. Environmental psychologist Professor Lorraine Whitmarsh said their sense of betrayal was “understandable”.

If global temperatures rise by more than 1.5C, scientists say the earth is likely to experience severe effects such as millions more people being exposed to extreme heat. As a result, COP26 delegates at the summit in Glasgow agreed to reduce coal use. But the decision was met with disappointment by other delegates and pressure groups who fear it doesn’t go far enough to sustain a 1.5C temperature rise by 2030.

Bath University student Maria Cundale, 22, said: “The way our leaders are not dealing with the issue right now is really frightening and upsetting. “As an individual you feel like you’re doing your best to make things work but when it’s not immediately happening on a global scale you feel really insignificant.” She said world leaders making decisions like these intensify feelings of eco anxiety and make its effects “even more damaging”.

University of the West of England student Lizzie Coney, 24, helped to make a COP26 video sharing young people’s climate fears and hopes. She said every young person around the world is feeling the same anxiety and “the COP26 decision has made it worse”. “It makes me angry. It was a grand opportunity that was completely missed,” she said.

In response to the agreement, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there was “still a huge amount more to do”. “Critically, we have the first ever international agreement to phase down coal and a roadmap to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees,” he said.

Prof Whitmarsh said: “The Glasgow Pact is not a game-changer, but it has made important steps forward. But she said young people, especially those from developing countries, “understandably feel betrayed”.

Original source: https://www.bbc.com