THE Scottish Government is to fund a key youth conference ahead of the COP26 climate summit after UK ministers failed to pay up, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The First Minister said her administration was stepping in with £300,000 for the Conference of Youth after Boris Johnson’s government decided not to fund it.

“We cannot allow the world’s children and young people to be silenced in Glasgow on an issue so vital to their future,” she told the closing day of the SNP conference. 

The 16th Conference of Youth (COY16), the UN’s official youth event for COP26, brings together delegates from over 140 countries to share experiences and build skills.

It will result in the Statement of Youth, which is presented on behalf of young people at every COP, setting out their hopes and expectations for the climate  talks.

Five young people from Scotland will be among the delegates and contribute to the Statement.

This event, which runs from 28-31 October in Glasgow, immediately before the fortnight-long COP26, will be funded by the Scottish Government and delivered by YOUNGO – the youth constituency of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Ms Sturgeon told delegates humanity faced a “code red” over climate change, with extreme weather, fires and floods, but that it was “not too late to avert catastrophe”.

She said: “In a few weeks’ time world leaders will gather here in Glasgow for the UN Climate Change Conference – COP 26.

“Make no mistake, this summit represents the world’s best chance – probably our last chance – to limit global warming to 1.5°C in line with the Paris Agreement.

"No-one underestimates the scale of the challenge.

“But no-one should underestimate the impact on lives – particularly the lives of the world’s poorest - if we fail to meet it.

“As we approach COP26 some of the strongest voices pushing for urgent global action are those of children and young people.

“They are speaking up to fight for their future.  Their commitment is inspiring.

“The Conference of Youth, which is now 16 years old, has always been funded by the government of the UN member state hosting COP. Except this year. 

“Now I don’t know why the UK Government has decided not to fund it - and it doesn’t really matter - but I do know that we cannot allow the world’s children and young people to be silenced in Glasgow on an issue so vital to their future. 

“So I can confirm that the Scottish Government has decided to fund the Conference of Youth to meet for four days in Glasgow in the run up to COP.

“Young people from Scotland will be invited to participate, and they will join with young people from across the globe to present their demands to the world’s leaders in the opening weekend of COP.”

Heeta Lakhani, YOUNGO Focal Point (Global South) and Marie-Claire Graf YOUNGO Focal Point (Global North) added: “The support of the Scottish Government is proof of legitimate youth inclusion and participatory governance in the lead up to [COP26]. 

"The commitment and backing of the Scottish Government will surely be part of the climate movement's history. In these challenging times, it is important that we work on shared goals together. Let’s unify for change!"