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Wester Ross environmental activist Finlay Pringle (14) underwhelmed by 'no action, just talk' COP26 amid claims voice of youth blocked out

By Louise Glen

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Fin Pringle at Cop26.
Fin Pringle at Cop26.

A TEENAGER from Ullapool declared himself 'very disappointed' over the engagement with young people at COP26.
Community activist Finlay Pringle (14) said he had gone to the climate summit in Glasgow with high hopes, but he said the youth voice was drowned out.

Fin, who attends Ullapool High School, is at the conference as the longest-serving climate youth activist in the UK, who has been campaigning for the last four years.

He has been striking from school each Friday alongside one other pupil and his sister, and says climate change is still not being taken seriously.

Speaking from the Green Zone at COP26, he said: "I am a bit underwhelmed by the conference and it is really depressing.

"The Blue Zone is just a trade fair. People are not actually doing anything, in fact they are creating things they could do – but there is absolutely no action behind it, as far as I can tell.

"It is as though children and young people have no voice. We are locked out of the discussions. I think they think we will not be able to handle the information.

"But I study this, and I can handle so-called high level information.

Quoting climate activist Greta Thunberg (18) who is also in Glasgow, he said: "It is all blah, blah, blah.

"I came here ambitious and hopeful, and I found that it is the same old, same old. No action, just talk."

Fin attended a fringe conference where Greta was in attendance, asked if she know who he was, he said: "She spoke to me.

"To be honest, I think she knows who is leading the conversation in every country. I was the first young person to campaign in the UK - so she follows me on social media."
He continued: "There is a penguin hanging on one of the displays, and there is no doubt about it, I feel exactly the same – our future is hanging in the balance."

Fin said that the best parts of the conference were those things were people themselves had taken to the streets to protest.

He said: "It wasn't all bad, the only great thing was the marches that I was part of. Being with thousands of other people that are taking the climate emergency seriously, is the best thing about this conference."

Fin said that the west coast of Scotland was under serious threat due to climate change, he said: "Ullapool must be on the front line of climate change and the impact that is having on the seas around the west coast.

"Aside from Africa and South America, who are being devastated by rising tides and high temperatures, we are already seeing the changes in the seas from climate change.

"I saw one display 'Racing the King Tide' that was on a VR (virtual reality) device that allowed you to see the impact of rising water levels on one island. The school conducts in lessons in water up to knee high. The teacher said she didn't know if it was worse to see fish or human faeces as she taught her lessons."

Highland Council's climate change committee chairwoman Cllr Trish Robertson, welcomed Fin's feedback. She said: "I had many of the same feelings that Fin had about the conference.

"We need to take action, and stop talking about it.

"It was so disappointing to see the lack of numbers at fringe events.

"It was difficult to get signed up for the event in the first place, and people didn't really like it when we asked difficult questions. It was difficult to get engagement with people."

Black Isle schoolboy tells why he skipped classroom and headed to Glasgow

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